Saints beaten in home opener

Saints suffered their first defeat under Paul Wellens, following a 25-24 defeat against Leeds Rhinos.

Saints were reduced to twelve men for ten minutes inside the opening quarter of the first half. Sione Mata’utia was judged to have hit Aidan Sezer late and the referee changed his original decision from a Goal Line Dropout to a penalty as the two players had treatment, 0-0.

Leeds took the lead a few minutes later. A break down their right edge saw David Fuisitu’a break down the wing, he found Richie Myler on his inside who then found Ash Handley, who turned Jonny Lomax inside out to score. Rhyse Martin converted, 0-6.

Saints levelled soon after. A break down the right wing from former Rhino Konrad Hurrell gave Saints great field position but he was able to offload to the supporting Jack Welsby who was held inches short of the line. Saints were then awarded a penalty and off the back of it Joey Lussick spotted a gap from dummy half and stretched over to score. Tommy Makinson converted, 6-6 it was tied.

The hosts then took the lead for the first time midway through the half. After earning a penalty in Leeds territory, the Red V ran it and a couple of tackles in Lewis Dodd stepped and stretched over to score from close range. Makinson converted again, 12-6 the hosts led.

Leeds then narrowed the gap again, the visitors played off the cuff and a kick from Sezer found Martin who grabbed the loose ball and stumbled over the line from close range. The second rower converted his own try, 12-12 it was tied.

Saints then grabbed another score. Leeds made an error in their own ten and Dodd pounced on the loose ball under the sticks, he probably won’t ever score an easier try. Makinson converted again, 18-12.

Those were the final points of a high-scoring first half at the Totally Wicked Stadium, as the Red V led the Rhinos 18-12.

The hosts extended their lead six minutes into the second half. Welsby put a good grubber kick in near the Rhinos line and Mark Percival collected the loose ball, and looked to have put it down. However, the video referee awarded a penalty try instead as a Saints player had been obstructed trying to chase the loose ball. Makinson converted for the first two-score lead of the game, 24-12.

Another good chance quickly followed. A high kick was won by Makinson who patted the ball down for Welsby to stroll in, however the referee ruled forward.. Saints then had the chance to make it a three-score game as they had a penalty to the right of the sticks, however Makinson’s attempt went wide so it remained 24-12.

Another Saints was then sent to the sin bin. Leeds looked to move the ball left and Myler was hit late by Curtis Sironen. After a long stoppage, the referee decided to reduce the hosts to twelve again, 24-12. The Rhinos took immediate advantage of their man advantage. After working the ball to the middle of the field Cameron Smith threw a dummy before breaking through the line to score. Martin converted, we had a one-score game again, 24-18.

Another try looked to have followed. Saints worked the ball right and Dodd put in a beautiful kick on his weaker right foot, Makinson won the race to the loose ball and looked to have grounded it in the corner. However, the video referee judged that Makinson didn’t have control so the try wasn’t awarded and it remained 24-18.

The Rhinos then tied the game. Saints were unable to wrap up a tackle as the Rhinos played off the cuff, the ball finding its way to Martin who someone broke tackles before stretching out to score. Martin converted and once again it was tied at 24-24.

In the final minute former Rhino Hurrell was sent off for a late hit on Myler which put Leeds in great field position. Saints blocked the first one-point attempt but the Rhinos got another set which allowed Blake Austin to kick a last gasp winner, 25-25.

Match Summary

Saints Team: Jack Welsby, Tommy Makinson, Konrad Hurrell, Mark Percival, Jon Bennison, Jonny Lomax, Lewis Dodd, Alex Walmsley, Joey Lussick, Matty Lees, Sione Mata’utia, Curtis Sironen, Morgan Knowles.

Interchanges: Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Jake Wingfield, James Bell, Sam Royle.

Tries: Joey Lussick (16), Lewis Dodd (20, 28), Mark Percival (46),

Conversions: Tommy Makinson (4 from 4)

Penalties: Tommy Makinson (0 from 1)

Sin Bin: Sione Mata’utia (8), Curtis Sironen (58)

Red Card: Konrad Hurrell (79)

Leeds Rhinos Team: Richie Myler, David Fusitu’a, Nene MacDonald, Ash Handley, Derrell Olpherts, Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer, Tom Holroyd, Jarrod O’Connor, Zane Tetevano, James McDonnell, Rhyse Martyn, Cameron Smith.

Interchanges: Kruise Leeming, Justin Sangare, Sam Walters, James Donaldson.

Tries: Ash Handley (11), Rhyse Martin (24, 70), Cameron Smith (59)

Conversions: Rhyse Martyn (4 from 4)

HT: 18-12

FT: 24-25

Attendance: 15,148

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