|Leeds Rhinos (0) 0|
|St Helens (24) 48|
|Tries: Graham, Walmsley, Makinson, Grace 3, Fages, Coote Goals: Coote 8|
Regan Grace delivered a hat-trick of try-of-the-season contenders as champions St Helens continued their post-restart form by thrashing Leeds.
The Wales winger dived in at the corner to bring up his second and the finish for his treble was another pacy burst.
Theo Fages and Lachlan Coote crossed late on to truly seal it for Saints.
Leeds’ loss was the first time they had been beaten without scoring at home in the Super League era.
Both these sides had been in action in the opening round but there was no let-up in the pace, nor the ferocity as Alex Mellor for Leeds and Morgan Knowles for Saints both went off with injuries in a bruising contest.
Kristian Woolf’s side were a little scratchy in defence of their title before the coronavirus lockdown but showed all facets of their quality in this performance.
In forwards Graham, the outstanding Walmsley and Matty Lees they had the power to roll Leeds all over the park and the quality in the backs to execute when in field position.
Both props steamed over on the back of momentum while Makinson’s score was beautifully worked out wide after further softening up through the middle.
Leeds performed heroics to charge back from 26-6 down against Huddersfield last weekend but there was to be no fairytale finish for Richard Agar’s side this time.
There was no lacking in effort, but whenever they managed to get into Saints’ red zone they met considerable defensive resistance.
At the other, there could be criticism of their middle given the ease in which Saints prised gaps but this was more about the champions being at their best than the Rhinos’ deficiencies.
Leeds coach Richard Agar: “It was a really tough day. We were disappointed with the way we turned the ball over early doors, and you then throw in some penalties and a couple of poor decisions with ball.
“We let in a couple of soft tries, interjected with some pretty good effort, but we weren’t able to sustain that effort.
“I am going to tip my hat to them, they defended really well but I’m disappointed with the way we finished the game. We got really soft towards the end.
“I think at moment they’ve set the standard from last year. They are absolutely the benchmark.
“While they were a little bit off where they expected to be before break, they’ve certainly returned in pretty good shape.”
St Helens coach Kristian Woolf: “I was really happy with the way we just kept turning up and didn’t give them an opportunity to score. That was really good to see.”
On Regan Grace: “He’s a little bit different to the guys you get in the NRL. He’s so energetic, has great footwork and a turn of speed that can turn nothing into something, which he did tonight.
“It’s nice to see him get a bit of open space. He didn’t get that much last week or before the break.”
Leeds Rhinos: Handley, L Briscoe, Newman, Sutcliffe, T Briscoe, McLelland, Gale, Seumanufagai, Dwyer, Prior, Millor, Martin, Smith.
Interchanges: Leeming, Oledzki, Evans, Cuthbertson.
St Helens: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Costello, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Graham, Taia, Bentley, Knowles.
Interchanges: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lees, Amor, Smith.