Official Match Report
Reigning First Utility Super League champions St Helens took advantage of Leeds' Wembley hangover for the second year in a row to break their duck in the Super 8s with a 32-18 triumph.
The Rhinos, without injured trio Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins and Rob Burrow, looked a shadow of the team that routed Hull KR 50-0 in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final as they missed the chance to cement top spot in the table.
Saints, who won 13-12 at Headingley 12 months ago, led from the third minute as they gained their first win in four meetings with Leeds in 2015 and halted a four-match losing run.
The visitors, who left prop Mose Masoe out of their team for the first time since making his debut 18 months ago, were boosted by the return of skipper Jon Wilkin and he scored the last of their five tries to clinch a win that should secure them a semi-final spot at the expense of Castleford Tigers.
Leeds, who brought in rookies Ashton Golding and Jordan Lilley on their 19th birthdays, were so clinical and ruthless at Wembley but struggled to hit the heights of that convincing display at Headingley.
Half-back Danny McGuire set the tone in the third minute when he fumbled from a play-the-ball in his own 20-metre area and Saints forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook reacted quickly to pick up and get winger Tom Makinson over for the game's first try.
Leeds responded well, with full-back Golding racing onto McGuire's grubber kick only to be held up over the line and front rower Adam Cuthbertson losing the ball in a charge for the line.
The Yorkshiremen lost talisman Jamie Peacock with a head injury but struck back on 17 minutes to level, with centre Jimmy Keinhorst, 18th man at Wembley, beating Adam Swift and Josh Jones on a weaving run to the line.
However, Saints regained possession from the re-start and Jones went over at the corner after Leeds winger Tom Briscoe knocked down Joe Greenwood's initial pass.
Luke Walsh kicked a second touchline conversion and increased his side's lead to 14-6 after 30 minutes with a penalty after another Rhinos handling error.
Leeds got back into the match just before half-time, with the video referees over-ruling James Child in adjudging that second rower Mitch Achurch had downward pressure as he stretched out for the line from dummy half.
Sinfield's second goal cut the deficit to two points but Saints stretched their lead to 20-12 four minutes into the second half when left winger Swift produced a superb counter-attack and, when he was brought down in Golding's valiant tackle, Walsh went through a bedraggled defence on the next play.
There was no way back for Leeds when full-back Adam Quinlan raced onto Travis Burns' inside pass to cut a swathe through their defence for Saints' fourth try on 57 minutes.
Substitute Mark Flanagan had a try disallowed and Jordan Turner lost the ball over the line as Saints enjoyed the momentum.
Winger Ryan Hall gave the Rhinos brief hope when he supported a break by Sinfield to score a third try but Saints had the final say when Wilkin swooped on the ball after prop Alex Walmsley had lost it in a two-man tackle just short of the line.
|78||goal||Goal scored for St Helens by Luke Walsh||18-32|
|78||try||Try scored for St Helens by Jon Wilkin||18-28|
|71||try||Try scored for Leeds by Ryan Hall||18-26|
|71||goal||Goal scored for Leeds by Kevin Sinfield||18-26|
|69||INTER||Interchange for Leeds, Jordan Lilley On||18-26|
|69||INTER||Interchange for Leeds, Brett Delaney Off||14-26|
|58||try||Try scored for St Helens by Adam Quinlan||12-26|
|58||goal||Goal scored for St Helens by Luke Walsh||12-26|
|45||goal||Goal scored for St Helens by Luke Walsh||12-26|
|45||try||Try scored for St Helens by Luke Walsh||12-24|
|40||try||Try scored for Leeds by Mitch Achurch||12-20|
|40||goal||Goal scored for Leeds by Kevin Sinfield||12-20|
|35||INTER||Interchange for Leeds, Kevin Sinfield Off||12-20|
|35||INTER||Interchange for Leeds, Kylie Leuluai On||12-20|
|33||INTER||Interchange for St Helens, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook Off||12-20|
|33||INTER||Interchange for St Helens, Mark Flanagan On||12-20|
|31||goal||Goal scored for St Helens by Luke Walsh||12-20|
|30||INTER||Interchange for Leeds, Mitch Achurch On||12-18|
|30||INTER||Interchange for Leeds, Adam Cuthbertson Off||12-18|
|26||INTER||Interchange for St Helens, Kyle Amor Off||12-18|
|26||INTER||Interchange for St Helens, Kyle Amor On||12-18|
|26||INTER||Interchange for St Helens, Alex Walmsley On||12-18|
|26||INTER||Interchange for St Helens, Andre Savelio Off||10-18|
|22||try||Try scored for St Helens by Josh Jones||6-18|
|22||goal||Goal scored for St Helens by Luke Walsh||6-14|
|20||INTER||Interchange for St Helens, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook Off||6-12|
|20||INTER||Interchange for St Helens, Joe Greenwood On||6-10|
|18||goal||Goal scored for Leeds by Kevin Sinfield||6-6|
|18||try||Try scored for Leeds by Jimmy Keinhorst||6-6|
|13||INTER||Interchange for Leeds, Brad Singleton On||6-6|
|13||INTER||Interchange for Leeds, Jamie Peacock Off||4-6|
|3||goal||Goal scored for St Helens by Luke Walsh||0-6|
|3||try||Try scored for St Helens by Tommy Makinson||0-2|