St Helens 42 Leeds Rhinos 12: New coach, same outcome as Rohan Smith's side implode in big defeat

Once the biggest game in Super League, St Helens versus Leeds Rhinos does not have the same ring to it in 2022.

Saints, who lost four Grand Finals in five years at the hands of the Rhinos during a wretched run at Old Trafford, are the undisputed kings of Super League under Kristian Woolf.

St Helens have made light work of the Rhinos in recent times and it was a case of new coach, same outcome at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

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Rohan Smith's side could point to a big swing in the first half when Sam Walters dropped the ball over the line and Regan Grace was adjudged to have touched down at the other end.

Zane Tetevano was sent off at the Totally Wicked Stadium. (Picture: Tetevano was sent off at the Totally Wicked Stadium. (Picture:
Zane Tetevano was sent off at the Totally Wicked Stadium. (Picture:

But the final scoreline of 42-12 told the tale of another chastening evening against the all-conquering Saints.

Former Leeds centre Konrad Hurrell opened the scoring in the reverse fixture and he was at it again before adding a second try for good measure.

The irrepressible Alex Walmsley also bagged himself a brace as St Helens opened up a six-point advantage at the top of Super League.

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The lively Harry Newman marked only his second start of the season with a sensational solo effort but positives for the Rhinos were few and far between.

Alex Walmsley celebrates a try against Leeds Rhinos. (Picture: Walmsley celebrates a try against Leeds Rhinos. (Picture:
Alex Walmsley celebrates a try against Leeds Rhinos. (Picture:

With the game long since over as a contest, Zane Tetevano saw red and Bodene Thompson and James Bentley yellow to round off a miserable 11th straight loss against Saints.

Hammered in five of the previous six meetings, Leeds needed a fast start at the home of the three-peat champions.

But as they so often do, St Helens set the pace and took control inside the opening quarter.

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Not for the first time, the Rhinos were unable to shackle towering prop Walmsley.

Zane Tetevano takes the ball in. (Picture: Tetevano takes the ball in. (Picture:
Zane Tetevano takes the ball in. (Picture:

The England man set the tone with a rampaging run and Saints did not have to wait long for their opening try.

Leeds found themselves defending their own line after David Fusitu'a dropped Jack Welsby's high kick to the corner and failed to withstand the pressure.

After conceding a penalty for offside, the Rhinos stood back and watched as St Helens shifted the ball out to the right where Hurrell got the better of Rhyse Martin, with video referee Liam Moore giving the try the green light despite the suggestion of a double movement.

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Saints did not have things all their own way in the first 20 minutes, the impressive Newman firing a warning shot with a break down the right that left the hosts scrambling.

St Helens celebrate Konrad Hurrell's first try. (Picture: Helens celebrate Konrad Hurrell's first try. (Picture:
St Helens celebrate Konrad Hurrell's first try. (Picture:

St Helens survived and extended their lead after former forward Bentley - back from his third suspension of the season - was penalised for a high shot to invite his old side into Leeds territory.

The Rhinos managed to crowd out Tommy Makinson in the corner but on the next play, Morgan Knowles put Walmsley over with a superb offload.

Makinson knocked over his second conversion to make it 12-0, which already had the look of an unassailable lead for the formidable Saints.

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But Leeds were not going to die wondering, Blake Austin kicking early to the right flank where a diving Fusitu'a caught the ball just inside the touchline.

The winger had the presence of mind to get the ball away before hitting the whitewash and Newman did the rest, beating five would-be tacklers on a trademark slaloming run to the line.

The turning point came just after the half-hour mark when young Leeds forward Walters failed to ground the ball after Kruise Leeming's kick rebounded perfectly off a post.

Saints went down the other end to make it 16-6 in controversial fashion, a killer blow to the Rhinos' hopes with the interval approaching.

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The ball appeared to come loose as Grace tried to get it to ground but Moore could not find enough evidence to overturn the on-field decision.

If the scoreline flattered St Helens slightly at the break, Woolf's men showed their superiority in the second half.

Hurrell gave Leeds another painful reminder of his power after Makinson rescued a poor pass from Jonny Lomax and Thompson's try from Austin's cross-field kick only fanned the flames.

Agnatius Paasi punished Zak Hardaker's kick-return error with a strong finish from close range before Thompson was sin-binned for a trip on Matty Lees.

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England new boy Joe Batchelor romped over after being put through a hole by Lomax and Dan Norman scored try number seven when he brushed aside Leeming to touch down.

Leeds simply imploded in the closing stages, Tetevano receiving his marching orders for a shocking high tackle on Hurrell and Bentley seeing yellow after preventing Walmsley from taking a quick tap.

But the Rhinos were powerless to stop the big forward from having the last word with a typically strong finish.

St Helens: Bennison, Makinson, Hurrell, Davies, Grace, Welsby, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles.

Substitutes: Lussick, Paasi, Wingfield, Norman.

Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Fusitu'a, Newman, Martin, Handley, Austin, Sezer, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Bentley, Thompson, Donaldson.

Substitutes: Tetevano, Walters, Myler, O'Connor.

Referee: Tom Grant

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