Saints Bow Out Of Cup

A STIRRING second half fight back was in vain as Leeds Rhinos ended Saints’ hopes of reaching  the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.

Down 18-4, tries from Andre Savelio and Mark Percival – his second of the evening – looked set to give the Champions a great chance of snatching a place in the showpiece.

Indeed, the game had a sense of deja vu about it as Saints once again threatened a comeback against the Rhinos after a flat start.

All three of the team’s meetings this season have followed a similar path.

But try as they might they couldn’t ensure parity and Kallum Watkins’ stunner late on sealed victory.

They also lost Atelea Vea to a knee injury and Joe Greenwood (shoulder) to compound the misery.

Once again the damage was done in the opening 20 minutes.

After a strong defensive opening set, Saints conceded a penalty and Leeds profited.

Adam Cuthbertson offloaded in the tackle – as he has done all season – before the ball was kept alive, into the hands of Zak Hardaker and he duly danced through the defence.

Sinfield converting.

Saints struggled to make any headway in the early stages until Luke Walsh’s high ball threatened Leeds’ line on 10 minutes – only for it to go dead.

Defensively though, Saints were standing up to the Rhinos’ onslaught but a moment of ill-discipline on 14 minutes gave Sinfield the chance to slot a penalty and he made no mistake.

Atelea Vea entered the frame a quarter into the game and made a big difference. His barnstorming run allowed space for Walsh to try a sidestep on the last tackle, and then his defence forced a Leeds error.

Saints couldn’t take advantage and their opponents punished them on their next set.

Rob Burrow broke though and found Sinfield – albeit with a forward pass – who had Watkins on his outside.

The centre then fed Joel Moon for the easiest of tries.

Joe Greenwood when close five minutes before half time and then McCarthy-Scarsbrook rattled Hardaker’s bones with a crunching tackle after Walsh’s high ball.

It was a pivotal moment in the half as on Saints’ next set they scored.

Alex Walmsley produced a ‘tap X repeatedly’ charge before Adam Quinlan’s mazy run made the space for Mark Percival go over in the corner.

Saints started the second half tentatively and were once again made to rue being slow out of the blocks.

Vea left the field with the knee injury and on that set Jamie Peacock went through the centre of the defence and under the posts.

Saints gained a repeat set on 50 metres thanks to Josh Jones’ cute chip and they made it count.

Another kick on the last, near the posts, took a nice deflection into the hands of Andre Savelio and he plunged over.

Walsh with the cool extras after the video referee had taken an age to give the score.

Saints then scored again – after forcing another Leeds error.

On the last Savelio took Roby’s pass and fed Percival for his second.

Walsh missing the tricky conversion.

It was all Saints and the champions should have turned the screw further.

But a high Sinfield ball forced a drop out and Kallum Watkins showed great feet to step over – and seal Leeds’ passage.

Saints span the ball around in the final stages as they tried to fight back but they’d left themselves too much to do.

Match Summary:

Rhinos:

Tries: Hardaker, Moon, Peacock, Watkins

Goals: Sinfield (4 from 5)

Saints:

Tries: Percival (2), Savelio

Goals: Walsh (1 from 3)

Penalties:

Rhinos: 3

Saints: 4

HT: 4-12

FT: 14-24

REF: Ben Thaler

ATT: 11,107

Teams:

Rhinos:

1. Zak Hardaker; 2. Tom Briscoe, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. Joel Moon, 5. Ryan Hall; 13. Kevin Sinfield, 6. Danny McGuire; 17. Adam Cuthbertson, 9. Paul Aiton, 10. Jamie Peacock, 15. Brett Delaney, 12. Carl Ablett, 11. Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

Subs: 7. Rob Burrow, 8. Kylie Leuluai, 20. Jimmy Keinhorst, 30. Mitch Garbutt.

Saints:

37. Adam Quinlan; 22. Matty Dawson, 17. Mark Percival, 3. Jordan Turner, 5. Adam Swift; 6. Travis Burns, 7. Luke Walsh; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 14. Alex Walmsley, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 21. Joe Greenwood, 15. Mark Flanagan.

Subs: 4. Josh Jones, 8. Mose Masoe, 11. Atelea Vea, 25. Andre Savelio.

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