Super League: Brace for Ryan Hall as Leeds Rhinos beat St Helens
Leeds bounced back from last week's World Club Challenge defeat by Melbourne Storm with a 20-12 victory at St Helens.
Last Updated: 02/03/13 7:24am
It was the Rhinos' first win at Saints since 2008 as they built on solid defence and dominance up front in a relatively comfortable victory over potential Grand Final rivals.
Saints have still not won at Langtree Park this season and their night got off to the worst possible start as Jordan Turner fired the opening kick-off out on the full.
Moments later Saints were offside defending their line and Kevin Sinfield knocked over his 40th successive successful kick at goal.
But St Helens hit back on eight minutes after Jamie Jones-Buchanan was penalised for interference, setting up the field position for Jonny Lomax to make use of the runners outside him to glide over and score, although Gary Wheeler missed the conversion.
Leeds were clearly expecting a tight game, evidenced by the decision to take two more points after Saints again infringed close to their line.
Four minutes later Leeds hit the front as Jones-Buchanan's offload enabled Sinfield and Danny McGuire to combine to put Ryan Hall in at the corner, although Sinfield finally missed a kick at goal - his streak ending at 41.
Ian Kirke and Kylie Leuluai both knocked on when looking certain to score from close range but Leuluai made amends on the hour as Hall collected McGuire's high kick and passed inside one-handed for the Kiwi to crash over under pressure. Sinfield inevitably stretched the lead to 14-4.
Three minutes later the Rhinos had opened up a winning margin, as a jinking run from Rob Burrow set Joel Moon away, whose clever sidestep and offload gave Hall his second try. Cue Sinfield; 20-4.
Saints rallied in the last 10 minutes as good work from debutant Mark Percival twice created scores in the left corner for Francis Meli.
But Turner missed both conversion attempts as Saints could not get to within the one score that might have set Leeds nerves jangling.
Ultimately the kicking was the difference, with both sides crossing for three tries but the ever-reliable Leeds skipper landing four from five to see his side home.