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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Leeds Rhinos 12 St Helens 26

20th June 2008

By Leeds Rhinos

The Rhinos lost 26-12 to St Helens at Headingley Carnegie after having Nick Scruton sent off in the second half for a spear tackle. The Rhinos tries came from Kevin Sinfield and Scott Donald but it was not enough to beat Daniel Anderson's side. Leeds had returned to Headingley Carnegie looking to bounce back from defeat at Quins the previous week. In contrast, St Helens travelled across the Pennines full of confidence having won their last ten games. Brian McClennan made one change with Luke Burgess returning from injury to replace Simon Worrall on the bench. As kick off approached both sets of fans were clearly eager to see their heroes go head to head. However, despite the rivally between the sides both sets of fans were a credit their clubs and the game of Rugby League as they impeccably observed a minutes silence of David Topliss, a man who in his great career played for neither club, and who sadly passed away this week.

Both teams starting the game at a frantic pace with neither side pausing for breath in the opening exchanges. Senior had the Rhinos best chance whilst Meli broke clear for St Helens however both chances were snuffed out by some great cover defence. Leeds turned down the first points scoring chance when Kevin Sinfield elected to tap a penalty under the posts in favour of continuing to ask questions of the visitors defence. However, the move came to nothing when Ablett had the ball knocked from his grasp. Willie Talau was then denied a try after 14 minutes by a fantastic four man tackle as it looked certain that the centre would score. In desperation, he stretched for the line eventually and knocked on. Ryan Bailey was placed on report after 16 minutes by referee Steve Ganson after the touch judge reported an alleged dangerous tackle by the prop on Maurie Fa'asavalu although the Leeds man was not penalised by the official. Leeds had a great chance soon after when McGuire spotted a gap on the last tackle and raced passed his international team mate Leon Pryce. He burst clear before offloading to the supporting run of Gareth Ellis, however the centre was unable to get through two Saints defenders on the line. The deadlock was eventually broken after 25 minutes by Fa'asavalu after he pushed off the tackle by Luke Burgess before running 20 metres to score between the posts. Video referee Ashley Klein adjudged that the blocking run that took out Kevin Sinfield's attempt to tackle Leon Pryce, who passed to the try scorer did no effect the score and it stood. Sean Long converted to make it 6-0. Unsurprisingly, it was not long before these two great sides were locked together again and just four minutes later Kevin Sinfield levelled the score. He timed his run to perfection to chase through onto McGuire brilliantly weighted through kick and touched down just before the dead ball line. He converted his own try to level the scores. With seven minutes remaining in the half, St Helens hit the front again but they rode their luck. A kick through by Long hit the post and could have rebounded anywhere however Bryn Hargreaves was the quickest to react to score his fourth try in two weeks. Long's conversion attempted went horrendously wide so the visitors lead remained 10-6.

WP – Home MPU

Leeds came out determined at the start of the second half but the wind was taken out of their sails by a string of 50/50 decisions going against them that brough St Helens from their own try line to score through Francis Meli. The opening was worked cleverly by Saints who spread the ball wide quickly and Meli had space down the touchline to score in the corner. Long again missed the conversion so the lead was still 14-6 after 45 minutes. Referee Ganson, who was officiating against his home town club for the first time, soon angered the Rhinos fans again when he penalised Diskin for interference at the tackle after it appeared to most that the tackle should have been called a good time before. Jamie Jones-Buchanan then became the latest player to be confused by a decision. Long intercepted his offload and then appeared to take a voluntary tackle, when he eventually regained his feet, the second rower picked him up and dragged him into touch. Instead of getting the scrum he thought he had earned, he looked up to find out he was penalised. The Rhinos were clearly getting frustrating with the St Helens official and that boiled over when Nick Scruton timed a tackle poorly and made a dangerous spear tackle on Keiron Cunningham. He could have little argument with the red card that followed which left his team a man light for the remaining 25 minutes. Saints sensed their chance and extended their lead in the next set as Meli once again made the extra man out wide to score in the corner. Long was off target but Saints had stretched their lead to 18-6 after 55 minutes. Four minutes St Helens were denied another try for Sean Long by video ref Klein. He looked initially like Long had scored from first receiver only for replays to show that Sinfield had brilliantly ripped the ball and dived on the loose ball to earn his side a goal line drop out. Leeds had to withstand a mountain of pressure on their own line but they were finally awarded a penalty that meant they could clear their lines. In the next set, they carved their way up field and a great offload by Senior released Scott Donald to score his 22nd try of the season. Sinfield added a fantastic touchline conversion to make it 18-12 with 16 minutes remaining. However, the Rhinos hopes were dealt a blow after 68 minutes when Leon Pryce rose above Senior and Webb to take Long's bomb on the Leeds line and touch down for his side's fifth try of the game. Long was able to convert this time to make it 24-12 with time running out for the home side. Long rubbed salt in to the wound with a penalty four minutes from the hooter to give his side a 26-12 winning margin and move Saints to within two points of Leeds at the summit of the engage Super League. 

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