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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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St Helens 38 Leeds Rhinos 10

19th September 2008

By Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos will have to return to Headingley Carnegie next Friday to try and book their place in the Grand Final after losing 38-10 at Knowsley Road. St Helens produced a blistering second half performance to book their place at Old Trafford whilst Leeds, like in 2004 and 2007, will have to win the Grand Final Eliminator if they are going to get the chance to defend their title. The game started at a fantastic pace with both teams showing their prowess on defence as they set a formidable platform for the rest of the game.

Referee Ashley Klein had the biggest bearing on the opening four minutes as he penalised both sides in their opening two defensive sets to lay down his authority. The home side scored the first try of the game after Willie Talau and Francis Meli combined down the left hand touchline. They got Leeds back peddling and quick ball along the line allowed Ade Gardner to score in the opposite corner. Sean Long was unable to add the conversion so Saints led 4-0 after six minutes. The Rhinos were unperturbed however and came straight back at the Carnegie Challenge Cup winners. Having forced a repeat set off a perfect kick to the posts from Danny McGuire, the visitors scored in the next set. Scott Donald and Keith Senior did well to keep the ball alive before Kevin Sinfield sent a towering bomb into the corner. Talau was unable to deal with it under pressure from Carl Ablett and McGuire was on hand to pick up the loose ball and score. Sinfield uncharacteristically pulled his conversion attempt wide so the score was level after 16 minutes. The game continued to ebb and flow with each team able to attack from anywhere on the field. Saints enjoyed a spell of pressure on the Leeds line after Diskin was penalised in the tackle and Smith knocked down an attempted intercept to give Saints a third set inside the Leeds half. Eventually the pressure told as Matt Gidley forced his way over from close range with 15 minutes remaining in the half. Long was able to add the conversion this time to make it 10-4. That lead was increased after 31 minutes when Jordan Tansey appeared to be harshly penalised for ball stealing when Leon Pryce attempted an offload near the Rhinos line. Long stepped up to kick the penalty from in front of the posts. Leeds looked like they were going to score one of the tries of the season with five minutes remaining before half time. Every single player touched the ball in a thrilling display of support play but just as Nick Scruton put the last pass to Tansey was unable to take it in and the chance went begging. Long had the chance to add another penalty with the last play of the half with a penalty from just inside the Leeds half however his long range effort rebounded off the post and Senior was able to wrap up the ball as the hooter sounded to leave it at 12-4 to Saints at the interval.

WP – Home MPU

The second half carried on where the first half had left off with both teams probing for a weak link in the opposition's line up. The Rhinos had a good opportunity in the opening exchanges having gained a penalty on half way but they could not make the most of it when Scruton knocked on ten metres out. Saints made the Rhinos pay in the next set as Pryce opened Leeds up down the middle and despite being tackled by Brent Webb, he managed to offload allowing the ball to be fed wide for Meli to score in the corner. Long missed the conversion so the lead was only 16-4 with 30 minutes remaining however it got worse for the Rhinos soon after. The League Leaders struck three minutes later through James Roby. Long created the chance by being alert on the last tackle to release Keiron Cunningham, who passed to Roby to duck under the challenge and stretch for the line. Long was again unable to convert so the Rhinos trailed by 16 points but it looked a long way off. Roby then made it two tries in five minutes when he supported the break of Cunningham to take the Welsh internationals offload and reach out to score. Long did convert this time to make it 26-4 after 59 minutes. Leeds were dealt another blow soon afterwards when Brent Webb was helped from the field with a injury to his right leg that he suffered making a tackle. Saints ensured their place at Old Trafford with 15 minutes left when Jon Wilkin spotted a pass by Sinfield and raced through to intercept 40 metres out. Burrow gave chase but he could not catch the second rower who scored Saints fourth try of the second half between the posts. Long added the conversion to make it 32-4 to the home side. The Rhinos did not let their spirits drop and Gareth Ellis produced a great piece of individual skill to step out of the tackle and power through to score between the posts. Burrow added the conversion to make the score 32-10. However, there was still time left for Wilkin to score his second try after he chased through to collect a grubber kick by Long, just beating Tansey to the ball to touch down. Long added the conversion to make the final score 38-10 and mean that the Rhinos will return to Headingley Carnegie next Friday to take on the winner of Catalans Dragons and Wigan.

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