THE Saints produced the performance of the season to topple Leeds Rhinos 26-24 on their own midden and gain a modicum of revenge for the defeat earlier in the season.
The early exchanges showed just how even a match this was going to be as both sides had to be on their mettle to keep their line intact.
It was the home side that managed to turn some early pressure into points as a miss pass created space for the winger to cross in the corner.
On their next set from the kick off, big drives from James Tilley and the ever improving Olly Davies down the left saw the Saints close. As the ball was spread right Greg Wilde’s half break and offload gave just enough space for Lewis Galbraith to touch down in the corner. Lewis Charnock’s majestic touchline conversion gave the Saints the lead.
It was all Saints now as the pack began to get the better of their counterparts. Greg Richards broke the line taking the ball to the fullback only to be tackled looking for support. Connor Dwyer’s pass to Ben Parry was knocked down for a Saints scrum on the Leeds 10 metre line. The Saints battered the line only to see Danny Yates’ delightful grubber somehow missed by Parry and Jack Ashworth in the corner.
From the restart sloppy tackling down the middle allowed the home side to regain the lead and it was extended five minutes later as they again exploited Saints’ right edge defence.
This put the Saints eight points behind and you sensed that another try to the home side may blow the game wide open.
The Saints were having none of it, however, as Connor Dwyer ruthlessly punished the Rhinos for a penalty on their own 30 whilst in possession. Dwyer ran a great line to take Yates’ short ball and score under the black dot.
Despite being two points behind all was positive in the Saints dressing room as the players acknowledged that they could all do better and that they were unlucky to be behind having been held up over the line and had a try chalked off for a forward pass.
Again the second period started like the first with both teams testing each other out and the home side scoring first from a dummy half sneak at the line.
But that was as good as it got for the Rhinos as the Saints pack showed real character to haul themselves back into the game.
The comeback was sparked by André Savelio who had an immense game as his first back after a prolonged time out with illness. He swatted off four would-be tacklers on a mazy 20 metre run before offloading to Adam Saunders. From the play the ball Yates’ was held up over the line and his cross kick on the last was just too far for Ben Parry to catch and touchdown.
The home side were rocking though and the breakthrough came around the hour mark. Tilley was again held short but quick hands to the right from the play the ball gave Saunders space to put a miss pass out to Galbraith for the winger to get his second of the game.
From the kick off the Saints came charging back with Savelio held up over the line for a third time. From the restart Tilley again went close but from the restart Charnock strolled over unopposed and converted his try to give the Saints the lead.
Charnock was again on hand to put Greg Wilde in at the right corner but with a little over eight minutes to go he slipped on taking the vital conversion which would have given the Saints a two score cushion.
In the spirit of making a fabulous spectacle of the game the Saints conceded a try in the corner but the conversion went wide.
The final three minutes were nerve wracking but the Saints held on for a massive victory, only surpassed by the celebration in the dressing room afterwards.
Half backs Charnock, Yates and Dave Hewitt led the team around the park well, Dom Speakman and Lewis Foster were lively at the play the ball and the back line is growing in stature each game. But hats must be taken off to the forwards who outshone their bigger opposition and when the chips were down came up snarling with desire and the Saints deservedly got the spoils.
Tries: Ash Handley 2, Elliot Minichella, Matty Dudman, Jacob Morgan.
Goals: Ben Light 2.
Tries: Lewis Galbraith 2, Lewis Charnock, Greg Wilde, Connor Dwyer.
Goals: Lewis Charnock 3.
Half Time: 12-14
Full Time: 26-24
1. Josh Sunley; 5. James Duckworth, 3. Thomas Minns, 4. Alex Foster, 2. Ash Handley; 6. Ben Light, 7. Robbie Ward; 8. Liam McEvoy, 9. Vila Halafihi, 10. Jordan Baldwinson, 11. Elliot Minichella, 12. Mason Tonks, 13. George Milton.
Subs: 14. Matty Dudman, 15. Matty Blake, 16. Jacob Morgan, 17. Rob Mulhern.
1. Adam Saunders; 2. Lewis Galbraith, 4. Jack Ashworth, 3. Greg Wilde, 5. Ben Parry; 6. Lewis Charnock, 7. Danny Yates; 10. James Tilley, 9. Dom Speakman, 8. Greg Richards, 11. Olly Davies, 12. André Savelio, 13. Connor Dwyer.
Subs: 14. Lewis Foster, 15. Adam Hesketh, 19. Chris Webster, 20. Dave Hewitt.