|St Helens (16) 42|
|Tries: Hurrell 2, Walmsley 2, Grace, Paasi, Batchelor, Norman Goals: Makinson 5|
|Leeds Rhinos (6) 12|
|Tries: Newman, Thompson Goals: Martin 2|
Super League leaders St Helens went six points clear as they shook off Leeds Rhinos at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Konrad Hurrell and Alex Walmsley put Saints 12-0 up before Harry Newman replied, and Regan Grace added a controversial third after Sam Walters had a score ruled out for Leeds.
Bodene Thompson cut the gap after Hurrell added his second try, but Agnatius Paasi put Saints 26-12 up.
Joe Batchelor, Dan Norman and Walmsley all went over as the Rhinos wilted.
Leeds finished a miserable night with 11 men after Zane Tetevano’s dismissal for a reckless challenge on Hurrell and James Bentley’s late yellow card.
A sixth straight Super League win and ninth victory in 10, strengthened the champions’ bid to retain their title, while back-to-back defeats left Leeds in eighth.
Saints hit the front after seven minutes when former Rhinos centre Hurrell, who also scored a try in St Helens’ 26-0 win at Headingley in April, used his momentum to reach out and ground the ball on the line.
Walmsley added a second Saints try after a superb Morgan Knowles offload, but Newman cut open the home defence with a thrilling run, slaloming his way from the touchline to cross near the posts.
A breathless first half then turned in the final 10 minutes in two calls from video referee Liam Moore.
With Leeds creating havoc, Walters thought he had levelled, but saw his try overturned when Moore ruled the ball was not under the back row’s control as he touched down.
Moments later there were doubts over Grace’s grounding after a sweeping team move, but Moore said there was not enough evidence to rule out the score and the hosts led 16-6 at the break.
Hurrell muscled his way over for his second score as the hosts turned the screw, but Rhinos were gifted a lifeline when Blake Austin’s crossfield kick was fumbled and Thompson strolled in.
But hope was quickly extinguished as Paasi’s powerful finish restored Saints’ 14-point lead before Jonny Lomax sent new England international Batchelor through the tiring visitors.
Norman and Walmsley took the try tally to eight for the merciless hosts as Leeds ran out of steam and lost their heads, subsiding to an 11th straight defeat against the Saints.
Top-of-the-table rivals Catalans, who visit Castleford on Sunday, and third-placed Wigan, who host Toulouse on Friday, can both reduce the deficit back to four points if they win.
St Helens coach Kristian Woolf:
“I never had any doubt about him. I know what sort of character he is and what sort of a person he is. I know he’s a bloke that helps your team enjoy their footy.
“But he does it the right way, by working hard. He’s fit happy and confident and playing great footy and he’s still going to get better.
“They came to play and really challenged us. But I was really happy with the way we stayed disciplined and didn’t allow ourselves to get frustrated. We were able to find plenty of points at the back end. We stayed patient and kept attacking.”
Leeds coach Rohan Smith:
“Bodene Thompson got caught off balance. The tackle on Hurrell looked spectacular but I haven’t seen the point of contact, I was trying to make an interchange at the time. I don’t know what happened with James Bentley, I didn’t see it.
“Harry Newman showed what he can do. He attacked the ball and played with high energy. It was an impressive first 80 minute-performance of the season from him, a positive.
“There were plenty of things I liked. We came to play and had a good crack. We stretched them a few times early in the piece. At half-time I didn’t think the score was reflective and at 20-12 it was game on but we lost a bit of composure at the back end.”
St Helens: Bennison, Makinson, Hurrell, Davies, Grace, Welsby, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles.
Interchanges: Passi, Lussick, Wingfield, Norman.
Leeds: Hardaker, Fusitu’a, Newman, Martin, Handley, Austin, Sezer, Donaldson, Thompson, Bentley, Prior, Leeming, Oledski.
Interchanges: Tetevano, O’Connor, Walters, Myler.
Red card: Zane Tetevano (76). Sin-bin: Thompson (62), Bentley (77).
Referee: Tom Grant.