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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Leeds Rhinos 16 St Helens 42

14th April 2002

By Leeds Rhinos

The Rhinos bowed out of the 2002 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Challenge Cup against a red hot St Helens at JJB Stadium.

Anthony Stewart's late try had seen Leeds off in their Tetley's Rugby Super League clash last week, and the winger grabbed a hat-trick in this game as Saints set up a repeat of the 1991 Final with Wigan, with Aussie flier Darren Albert also scoring a treble.

WP – Home MPU

Saints were magnificent in the first half of this encounter as they raced into a 26-6 lead with a superb show of attacking and fast hands.

Wingers Stewart and Albert both scored two tries apiece in benefiting from Saints' off-the-cuff play after Keiron Cunningham had opened the scoring in typical fashion from dummy half.

Mark Calderwood had touched down in the corner as Leeds replied, but any hopes of a comeback were dented by a wonder tackle from Albert to push Marcus St Hilaire into the corner flag as he was poised to score a minute before the break.

 Stewart completed his hat-trick early in the second half before Ben Walker gave Leeds hope, but in truth they were never likely to complete a comeback which has been Saints' trademark in recent years, especially when Albert scored his third on the hour.

 The holders had applied the pressure from the off, with Leeds twice having to drop out before Tim Jonkers stepped past Kevin Sinfield only to be brought down short in the fourth minute.

 However, Keiron Cunningham – back in the side following an ankle injury – forced his way over from the play-the-ball, Sean Long converting for a 6-0 advantage.

Long he darted through a gap soon afterwards only to be brought down by Calderwood, but Saints doubled their advantage after 12 minutes when Long, Paul Wellens and Martin Gleeson supplied the quick hands for Albert to score in the corner, long adding a superb conversion.

 Leeds began to respond, and got back into the game shortly before the quarter mark when Ryan Sheridan's offload, after the scrum half had been stopped short, enabled Kevin Sinfield to kick to the corner for Calderwood to collect and score.

 The video referee confirmed the try, and Ben Walker kicked the goal from wide out to reduce the arrears to 12-6.

However, the game turned in the 24th minute when, after appearing to miss a forward pass, referee Russell Smith penalised Leeds for interference and then dissent as they disputed the decision.

 Paul Sculthorpe took a quick tap and raced away, with Calderwood bringing him down. The ball was quickly moved left through Tommy Martyn and Paul Newlove for Stewart to touch down, long again adding the extras.

Five minutes later, on the last tackle, Long's perfectly weighted kick gave Albert his second try, and then Cunningham, Martyn and Stewart sent Stewart in on the left as Saints rocketed into a 26-6 lead.

The Rhinos' best chance to hit back before the break came when Stewart dropped a Walker kick, Calderwood collected and fed Tonie Carroll – starting as a substitute – only for Tim Jonkers to track back and cut him down short.

Walker and Senior moved the ball left and St Hilaire, diving in at the corner, saw Albert race in to push him into the corner flag in the process of touching down – a piece of never-say-die defending from Saints which proved their all-round class.

Leeds initially started the second period the stronger, but long drew first blood with a penalty before Saints' dominance saw Stewart sent in at the corner for his third after Joynt had been pulled down short.

 Ben Walker took Barrie McDermott's offload to score for the third consecutive game and converted, but with the score at 32-12, a comeback remained unlikely.

And that was effectively ruled out completely when Paul Wellens broke through; fed Martyn and the stand off gave Albert his hat-trick.

 Paul Sculthorpe then posted their eighth try when he dragged two men over the line with him, Long making the score 42-12 with the goal.

More last-ditch defending from Saints saw Walker and Carroll both denied inches short, while Wellens' superb tackle saw Rob Burrow held up short.

 Leeds have now appeared in nine of the last ten Semi-Finals and this was their fifth loss, and a try to Willie Poching after good work from Walker and Francis Cummins – who has played in eight of those nine – was little consolation.

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