If there was one certainty in round seven of Super League 2022 it was that the Leeds Rhinos would lose to St Helens, the only real issue being how many points the Rhinos would ship in and whether they would be able to get over the whitewash themselves.
The home side were without the injured Aidan Sezer so Liam Sutcliffe was in the halves alongside Blake Austin while Saints were without Alex Walmsley but there was celebration as James Roby made his 500th career appearance.
In our pre-match Twitter poll, no-one was predicting a Leeds win, most people predicting that Saints would win by 1 to 24 points, and the bookies were giving the Rhinos a fourteen-point start on the coupon.
It took just under five minutes for Saints to open their account with Konrad Hurrell returning to haunt his former employers and teammates as he went over down the right side as second receiver from the back of the scrum after Leeds had knocked-on in an attempted intercept. Tommy Makinson pushed his conversion attempt across the face of the posts.
The second Saints try came on sixteen with a trademark Makinson try as he summersaulted over in the corner to ground one-handed off a Jack Welsby pass. Makinson was again able to convert, the Champions 8-0 ahead.
Kruise Leeming kicked a great 40-20 on the half hour but the Rhinos knocked on two plays later to squander the opportunity.
The Rhinos defence was much improved over recent weeks but there was still a lack of imagination on attack which meant that they ended the half pointless and trailing by eight points.
An awful mistake by youngster John Bennison on forty-four saw Leeds in possession inside the Saints twenty but on the first play the Rhinos were pushed into touch as Saints muscled up in defence.
Three minutes later Makinson couldn´t gather a last kick tackle and Saints immediately conceded a penalty but when Jack Walker found a gap the referee ruled that it had been created for him by a shepherd.
Just as the Rhinos were starting to dominate a wayward Sutcliffe pass was taken by Makinson who sprinted eighty-five metres downfield to dive over for his second try of the game and break Rhinos hearts. Mark Percival added the extras as Makinson recovered his breath for a 14-0 lead, hope for the Rhinos close to extinguished.
Two minutes later and the points were secure as a mercurial Saints, rolling passes down the left wing and ripping a stretched Rhinos defence apart, saw Lewis Dodd over to round under the posts and give Percival a simple conversion for 20-0.
A sensational Jonny Lomax chip and chase to take the ball and dive over thrust a final dagger into the Rhinos carcass after a Bennison break from the back gained field position. Percival added the conversion for 26-0, the Rhinos humiliated again and nilled at home.
The Saints bandwagon rolls on as they get back to winning Super League ways after losing to Toulouse last time out. They go back to the top of the table, pushing arch-rivals Wigan back into second. The Rhinos were undoubtedly improved defensively but are their own worst enemies in attack, experts in wasting good position with dumb plays and errors. The Rhinos are now two points adrift of tenth spot and only above bottom placed Toulouse on points difference.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker, Tindall, Briscoe, Broadbent, Handley, Sutcliffe, Austin, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Bentley, Marti, Smith. Subs: O´Connor, Mustapha, Gannon. Donaldson.
St Helens: Welsby, Makinson (2T), Hurrell (T), Percival (3G), Bennison, Lomax (T), Dodd (T), Paasi, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Batchelor, Sironen, Knowles. Subs: Lussick, Wingfield, Norman, Royle.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-8 : HT : 0-12, 0-14, 0-18, 0-20, 0-24, 0-26 : FT.
Referee: James Child.