Heartbreak For Saints In Semi

SAINTS had their Championship hopes dashed in the final stages after a pulsating clash with Leeds.

Leading 13-8 and looking set for their second Grand Final appearance in a row, Rhinos’ captain Kevin Sinfield kicked a 40:20 from nowhere to allow Ryan Hall the territory to score.

It was a cruel blow for the champions who had the best of the game throughout.

They raced to an 8-0 lead after 17 minutes and to be fair such was their dominance they should have been further ahead by the time Leeds levelled it up.

James Roby scored the sort of try that made his omission from the Man of Steel shortlist baffling whilst Luke Walsh added a penalty.

But Zak Hardaker pulled one back before Kevin Sinfield’s metronome boot did the rest to make it 8-8.

Then, on the stroke of half time Walsh added a one-pointer to give Saints a slender advantage at the break.

The second was just as tight until Mark Percival went over in the corner… but sadly Sinfield had the final say.

Saints welcomed back Alex Walmsley from a two week absence; and he went straight onto the bench in place of Greg Richards.

Atelea Vea was also in the 13 for the first time since he returned from injury.

Starting well is crucial against Leeds and Saints didn’t give themselves the best chance of that when Jordan Turner knocked on from the kick off.

The Rhinos threatened but Adam Swift took a high ball on the last.

Mark Flanagan almost engineered a opening a few moments later but on Saints’ next attack they scored.

And it was down to the individual brilliance of James Roby. 

The hooker powered through the defence, handed off a couple of would-be tacklers and then stepped Zak Hardaker like he wasn’t there.

Walsh kicked the conversion and on his side’s next set led an excellent drive that had Leeds camped on their line.

But Joel Moon scooted 70 yards up the field before Tom Briscoe looked to have crashed over in the corner – only for Swift to make a wonder tackle to deny him and knock the ball loose.

Makinson then flew down the right hand side but saw his pass inside to Percival intercepted.

Walsh extended the lead with a penalty on 17 minutes as Leeds were caught out for offside – and that came after a great run from Kyle Amor to set up the chance.

Swifty went close once more but once Saints were penalised for a high tackle on 21 minutes, the Rhinos pressed home their advantage and Hardaker took a great Burrow offload.

Leeds were on the up and it was no surprise when they converted their dominance into points – albeit only two courtesy of Sinfield’s boot after Saints were caught offside.

Good D and good fullback play got the visitors out of trouble a couple of times before they had a crack at Leeds line – but the ball went to ground.

But one minute before half time they got the ball back and Luke Walsh slotted home a cool one pointer.

Saints began the first half with Tommy Makinson on the pitch – although he looked to have sustained an ankle injury at the back end of the first half.

They then forced a drop out – and put pressure on the Rhinos’ line – before Hall went 60 metres only to be hauled down by Quinlan.

The video referee correctly chalked off a Carl Ablett try on 49 minutes and then Quinlan stood tall and big once again on a high ball.

Kyle Amor continued his fine form with a cracking run with 25 minutes to go – and then Roby’s kick won them a drop out.

Then came the screw-turner!

Saints had been gaining more territory and possession but failing to convert it into points.

But on Ryan Hall’s carry, Joe Greenwood forced the ball out one on one, Wilkin collected and then found Turner to give Percival the simplest of tries.

Saints once again had chances but a Sinfield 40:20 and a penalty handed them great field position.

And they made no mistake, Ryan Hall showing great strength to score under pressure – although the grounding was a little dubious.

Sinfield adding the vital two points.

Saints had one last set to get out of their own 20 with around 30 seconds to go but the ball went to ground, Watkins scooped it up and sealed the deal.

Match Summary:

Rhinos:

Tries: Hardaker, Hall, Watkins

Goals: Sinfield (4 from 4)

Saints:

Tries: Roby, Percival

Goals: Walsh (2 from 3)

Drop: Walsh

Penalties:

Rhinos: 4

Saints: 4

HT: 8-9

FT: 20-13

REF: Robert Hicks

ATT: 17192

Teams:

Rhinos:

1. Zak Hardaker; 2. Tom Briscoe, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. Joel Moon, 5. Ryan Hall; 13. Kevin Sinfield, 6. Danny McGuire; 30. Mitch Garbutt, 7. Rob Burrow, 8. Kylie Leuluai, 12. Carl Ablett, 15. Brett Delaney, 17. Adam Cuthbertson.

Subs: 10. Jamie Peacock, 19. Brad Singleton, 20. Jimmy Keinhorst, 29. Jordan Lilley.

Saints: 

37. Adam Quinlan; 2. Tommy Makinson, 17. Mark Percival, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift; 3. Jordan Turner, 7. Luke Walsh; 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Atelea Vea, 12. Jon Wilkin, 15. Mark Flanagan.

Subs: 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Alex Walmsley, 21. Joe Greenwood, 25. Andre Savelio.

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