Super League: St Helens stay unbeaten as Leeds Rhinos are tamed
Last Updated: 28/03/14 11:00pm
Tommy Makinson: late try won it for Saints
Tommy Makinson scored two second-half tries as St Helens beat Leeds 14-10 in the Super League's top-of-the-table clash at Langtree Park.
Both sides came into the game unbeaten with Saints a point clear of the Rhinos, but the under-strength hosts were ranked as big outsiders by the bookmakers.
Leeds dominated possession and territory for long periods but Saints defended ferociously and two superb finishes from Makinson earned them a seventh straight win.
Leeds twice held the lead, courtesy's of Danny McGuire's 250th try of his career and three goals from returning skipper Kevin Sinfield.
But, with the scores tied at 10-10, Sinfield was wide with a drop goal attempt six minutes from the end and Makinson pounced for the winning try four minutes later to condemn the visitors to their first defeat of the season.
Jamie Peacock produced another prodigious effort for the Rhinos but St Helens' spirited performance was illustrated by 19-year-old loose forward Andre Savelio, who was given his debut in the absence of seven first-choice players through injury and suspension.
The game was played at a frantic pace from the start and early fumbles by Carl Ablett (Leeds) and Jonny Lomax (St Helens) only served to ramp up the excitement.
Leeds were the first to settle and took the lead with McGuire's landmark try on 18 minutes, supporting a half-back by Ablett to produce a trademark finish.
Sinfield's goal brought up his 3,500th point for the club and put his side into a 6-0 lead, but a knock-on from centre Kallum Watkins deep inside his own half put the visitors under pressure and they immediately cracked.
A strong burst from Savelio got Saints close to the line and loose forward Anthony Walker took James Roby's pass to crash over for his first try of the season, only the second of his Super League career.
Makinson's conversion levelled the scores and that was how it stayed for the next half hour.
England winger Ryan Hall went close to touching down McGuire's high kick but chances were at a premium due to the fierce, uncompromising defence from both sides.
Leeds edged 8-6 in front with a penalty from Sinfield on 55 minutes and they had the momentum when they forced two goal-line drop-outs.
However, Lomax was a secure last line of defence and the pressure was relieved when McGuire lost the ball attempting to score from dummy half.
When Saints broke clear, centre Josh Jones touched down, only for his try to be ruled out by video referee Phil Bentham for a knock-on in the build-up.
However, there was no denying Makinson moments later.
Wellens used his strength to open up space down the right flank and Makinson produced a tremendous finish at the corner to put his side in front for the first time on 64 minutes.
Makinson was unable to add the goal and Sinfield drew his side level five minutes later with his second penalty, awarded by referee Richard Silverwood for an illegal ball steal.
Sinfield was wide with a 40-metre drop-goal attempt six minutes from the end and it was to prove decisive in a pulsating finish, as Lomax gathered Lance Hohaia's kick over the Leeds defence and punted the ball ahead, Makinson keeping his nerve to touch down an awkwardly bouncing ball in the corner.