Saints edge Rhinos in gritty season opener

By Peter Hanson 10 February 2017
Saints edge Rhinos in gritty season opener

St Helens started the Super League season with a hard-fought 6-4 win over Leeds Rhinos at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday.

Rhinos preserved their top-flight status via The Qualifiers last year having won the treble the season before, but led at the end of a scrappy opening half thanks to Joel Moon's 50th Leeds try.

But Saints - semi-finalists last season - were much improved and far quicker with ball in hand after the break and the impressive Theo Fages' converted try proved enough to open with a win in a typically full-blooded encounter.

Dominque Peyroux was held up early for Saints, but the home side were forced to defend stoically.

Saints yielded when Carl Ablett attacked the line and offloaded to Moon, who touched down in the left corner despite the best efforts of debutant Ryan Morgan - Liam Sutcliffe missing the conversion.

Saints had created little, but Adam Swift took a high kick from Fages only to drop the ball when trying to ground the try.

Alex Walmsley was held up over the line as Saints attacked early in the second half, but Fages soon crossed the whitewash.

The Saints backs showed quick hands and when Fages saw the line he hit the gap to touch down and leave Mark Percival with the simple conversion.

Tommy Makinson made a stunning last-ditch tackle to prevent Sutcliffe restoring Rhinos' lead, while Saints saw a chance go begging when Swift just failed to reach Fages' grubber.

It mattered little, though, as Keiron Cunningham's men ground out the win.

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