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Super League: St Helens assistant Keiron Cunningham elated after win over Leeds Rhinos
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St Helens assistant coach Keiron Cunningham claimed his depleted side's 14-10 Super League win over Leeds as one of the best in their recent history after retaining their perfect start to the season.
Saints overcame the absence of seven first-choice players through injury and suspension to condemn the Rhinos to their first defeat of the season.
Winger Tom Makinson grabbed two tries in the last 16 minutes to snatch a seventh consecutive win that maintains the only 100 per cent record in Super League.
"It probably goes down for me as one of the greatest wins," said Cunningham, the club's former captain and hooker, who is now assistant to head coach Nathan Brown.
"It's tough to think back as long as I've been here where we've dug ourselves out of a hole and hung in there.
"It was a great spectacle. It's why you understand it's the greatest game in the world."
Brown blooded the latest forward off the club's production line, 19-year-old Andre Savelio, while Cunningham believes the experience gained by inexperienced quartet Anthony Walker, Joe Greenwood, Luke Thompson and Greg Richards in an injury-ravaged 2013 paid off handsomely.
"We knew last year's pain was going to be worthwhile," he said. "We've built a great squad and the foundations of the club are very secure.
"We've always had a very good youth structure and it's paying off now.
"For those kids to stand up to a great Leeds side and win at the end of the day is fantastic."
At the other end of the age scale, it was a fitting way for 34-year-old Saints skipper Paul Wellens to mark his record-equalling 413th Super League appearance.
"Wello is just a true warrior," Cunningham said. "He's a leader and a role model for these kids."
Leeds, who were able to bring back rested trio Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Tom Briscoe, twice held the lead, courtesy's of Danny McGuire's 250th try of his career and three goals from Sinfield, but, with the scores tied at 10-10, the skipper was wide with a drop goal attempt and it proved crucial.
"I thought Saints deserved their win," said Leeds coach Brian McDermott. "I didn't think there was much in it and I wouldn't have felt ashamed if we had won it. It was a fair result.
"It was a tough game and I thought Saints defended extremely well.
"Momentum is a club thing and they clearly had some momentum. Yes they were missing some people but I just knew the kids they brought in would do a good job."
The Rhinos were without hooker Paul Aiton after he went down with a virus and they lost second-rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan with a torn bicep at half-time.
"We all know Jonesy is a warrior but he bust his bicep in the first 15 minutes and carried on," McDermott said. "Our physio said at half-time if I left him on he it would be a rupture and a six month job so we kept him off for the second half but it was a huge effort."Super League. Click here to bet.
First Utility Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||3||2|
|10||Salford Red Devils||3||2|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th March|
|20:00||Hull FC vs Leeds Rhinos|
|Friday 6th March|
|20:00||Wakefield Wildcats vs St Helens|
|20:00||Huddersfield Giants vs Widnes Vikings|
|20:00||Castleford Tigers vs Wigan Warriors|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:30||Catalans Dragons vs Salford Red Devils|
|Sunday 8th March|
|15:00||Warrington Wolves vs Hull K R|
|Thursday 12th March|
|20:00||Huddersfield vs Castleford|
|Friday 13th March|
|20:00||Warrington vs Leeds|
|20:00||Wigan vs Hull|
|20:00||Widnes Vikings vs St Helens|
|First Utility Super League|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Widnes Vikings 58 - 16 Wakefield Wildcats|
|Hull K R 22 - 20 Wigan Warriors|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Salford Red Devils 32 - 28 Hull FC|
|Catalans Dragons 38 - 18 Warrington Wolves|
|Friday 27th February|
|St Helens 21 - 14 Castleford Tigers|
|Thursday 26th February|
|Leeds Rhinos 28 - 24 Huddersfield Giants|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wakefield 44 - 24 Hull K R|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Catalans Dragons 13 - 12 Castleford|
|Friday 13th February|
|Hull 6 - 7 Warrington|
|Leeds 38 - 6 Widnes|
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