St Helens held off an improving Leeds Rhinos at the Totally Wicked Stadium to win a thrilling game 27-22.
The game began badly for them, however, when Kevin Naiqama was taken off the field after 90 seconds for treatment for an eye injury.
St Helens took the lead when Theo Fages took advantage of a knock-on near his own line by Konrad Hurrell for a decision confirmed by the video referee, with Mark Percival missing the goal. They extended their lead through Jonny Lomax, with Percivalthis time adding the goal.
Leeds hit back with a try to Kallum Watkins after some great passing along the line, and Tui Lolohea’s goal made it 10-6, before Stevie Ward had to leave the field with a leg injury.
Lomax then had a try disallowed for a ball steal before the Rhinos took the lead with a great break by Tom Brisoe and a touchdown by Hurrell, with Lolohea’s goal giving Leeds a 10-12 lead. Hurrell and Ash Handley then had tries chalked off for forward passes. But there was no denying Handley on 32 minutes when a short pass from Hurrell put him in at the corner, but this time Lolohea couldn’t convert.
And the Rhinos continues to press home their advantage with a try under the posts from Oledzki, with Lolohea’s conversion making it 10-22 on 35 minutes.
Within ten minutes of the second half Alex Walmsley had brought St Helens back into the game with two tries, with Percival converting the first to make it 20-22. Lachlan Coote missed a penalty attempt that was conceded by Trent Merrin but Saints took the lead on 62 minutes with a brilliant effort by Luke Thompson, converted by Coote.
Both sides then had tries disallowed by Lolohea and Lomax respectively before James Roby decided the game with a late field goal for a relieved St Helens.
Saints: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Zeb Taia, Dom Peyroux, Mogan Knowles; Subs: Junior Paulo, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Matty Lees
Tries: Fages, Lomax, Walmsley 2, Thompson Goals: Percival 2, Coote 1; Field Goal: Roby
Rhinos: Jack Walker, Tommy Makinson, Kallum Watkins, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Tui Lolohea, Richie Myler, Nate Peteru, Brad Dwyer, Trent Merrin, Brett Ferres, Liam Sutcliffe, Stevie Ward; Subs: Cameron Smith, Brad Singleton, Adam Cuthbertson, Mikolaj Oledzki.
Tries: Watkins, Hurrell, Handley, Oledzki Goals: Lolohea 3