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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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St Helens 38 Leeds Rhinos 18

30th August 2002

By Leeds Rhinos

Reserve winger John Kirkpatrick scored his first Super League hat-trick as in-form St Helens held off a brave fightback from weakened Leeds to maintain their unbeaten home record and open up a four-point lead at the top of Super League.

The injury-hit Rhinos produced a spirited rally after trailing 16-2 but man of the match Paul Sculthorpe steadied the Saints as they completed a fourth win of the season over their Yorkshire rivals.

WP – Home MPU

The classy loose forward put full-back Darren Albert over for his 23rd try of the season and kicked three second-half penalties to halt the Leeds comeback.  And the 23-year-old Kirkpatrick, who is in the side because of injury to Paul Wellens, finished off the visitors with two tries in the last five minutes to complete his treble.

Kirkpatrick had opened the scoring with a try after only five minutes as sizzling Saints, who had run up 220 points in their previous four matches, quickly signalled their intentions.  It was all too easy for Saints as Great Britain duo Keiron Cunningham and Sculthorpe ripped apart a fragile defence, even before the visitors were reduced to 12 men with Kevin Sinfield sent to the sin bin for holding down in the tackle.

Kirkpatrick took advantage of an overlap to set the ball rolling and Paul Newlove and John Stankevitch both had tries disallowed as Leeds, without six regulars through injury and suspension, were swept off their feet.  Twice handling broke down between the Rhinos' left-wing partnership of Senior and debutant Richard Mathers and each time Saints made them pay, with centre Martin Gleeson and Tommy Martyn running in tries and Sculthorpe kicking both conversions.

The Leeds duo made amends two minutes before the break when teenager Mathers regathered Ryan Sheridan's high kick and centre Keith Senior touched down for the seventh successive match to bring up his half-century for the club.

It was the first try conceded by Saints in 278 minutes of Super League football at Knowsley Road and Ben Walker kicked the conversion, to supplement an earlier penalty, and halve his side's deficit.

St Helens were down to 12 men themselves by then, with Newlove in the bin for a professional foul, but they stretched their lead straight from the re-start when Sinfield's kick-off failed to go 10 metres and Sculthorpe kicked the penalty from halfway.

They then missed a clear-cut scoring opportunity when Cunningham tore through the first line of defence only to send out a wild pass before Albert, deputising at full-back, took Sculthorpe's pass to race over.

Leeds looked outgunned but they played with plenty of spirit in attack and their perseverance was rewarded on 50 minutes when Wayne McDonald, a former St Helens forward, pounced on a ricochet to score a second try, to which Walker added his third goal.

The visiting fans sensed a sensational finish when right winger Mark Calderwood pounced for another try after a kick-ahead by Walker but the stand-off missed his first shot at goal and Sculthorpe added a third penalty to settle his side's nerves.

As Leeds began to panic, Saints took full advantage with Kirkpatrick racing over in quick succession to record a notable hat-trick and Sculthorpe took his goal tally to seven from nine attempts.

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