League leaders St Helens defeated Leeds Rhinos 36-10 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
It was a great start for the Saints as they got in after just 57 seconds as Kevin Naiqama collected Jack Walker’s fumble to get in and score. Lachlan Coote added the conversion to put the Saints ahead by six points early on.
The leaders soon doubled their lead when Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook supported Jonny Lomax’s break to score. Coote was once again on target with the conversion to make it 12 points in just four minutes.
But Leeds showed they would go down fighting when Brad Dwyer got in ten minutes later from dummy half. Liam Sutcliffe converted from in front of the posts to half the deficit.
Their reprieve didn’t last long however, as Coote got in to finish off a good move. He then converted his own try to give the Saints their 12 point lead back.
After some confusion when the game clock stopped, Saints did manage to squeeze an effort in before half time as Tommy Makinson produced a classic finish in the corner. Coote added the touchline conversion to put Saints 24-6 ahead going into the break.
Leeds did threaten a comeback by getting the first try of the second half as Luke Briscoe, a late addition to the squad in place of the injured Ash Handley, got in in the corner. Sutcliffe missed the conversion to leave the Rhinos trailing by 14.
The game then got a bit scrappy, Saints were trying offloads that were not coming off, but the Rhinos couldn’t break them down either.
It soon simmered over, after a few calls for high tackles went unheard by referee Ben Thaler, including a tackle that led to Zeb Taia being taken off with a dislocated shoulder. Then another went in and both sides piled in although no action was taken.
It was only when James Donaldson was sent to the sin bin for the Rhinos after interfering in the ruck from an offside position that the game opened up again.
The next play after Donaldson was sin binned, McCarthy-Scarsbrook managed to barge over for his second try to kill the game. Coote converted once more to put Saints ahead by 22 points.
There was even time for another try as James Bentley managed to get over from dummy half. Coote converted again to give him a perfect record with the boot.
It may not have been a vintage performance, but Saints made sure they are still in a comfortable position at the top of the table. They travel to second placed Warrington Wolves next Friday.
As for Leeds, they remain deep in relegation trouble, with only points difference keeping them off the bottom. They welcome Catalans Dragons next Sunday.