It was to be a night of emotion as the Leeds Rhinos said goodbye to the iconic South Stand, the home of the hardcore of the Rhinos supporters since its construction in 1932. While the Leeds players were undoubtedly aware of the emotion of the occasion, coach McDermott had spent the week focussing his side to get the victory to keep them on track for a top two finish.
But Saints were also keen for a win which woudl lift them into the top four as they jostle for a play-off position and a shot at the Grand Final.
There is one change for the Rhinos who lost heavily to Wakefield Trinity last weekend with Walker stepping into the full back berth in place of Golding. For Saints there were no changes to the seventeen who lost 8-6 to Hull FC last weekend.
It had been a high octane opening nine minutes and when Saints got a chance of a two point lead after Stevie Ward had interfered at the play the ball, Mark Percival slotted the ball between the uprights to give the visitors the lead.
After absorbing a lot of Saints pressure the Rhinos went on the offensive and when Saints were penalised for being offside on their own line Kallum Watkins kicked the penalty to level the scores.
On twenty-three the Rhinos interfered at the play-the-ball, Matt Parcell being the guilty party, but Percival failed to kick the penalty.
On thirty it looked like the Rhinos would go in for the games opening try but Jack Walker dropped the ball with the line begging. On thirty-five it was Saints who regained the lead when Jonny Lomax was on hand to take a Zeb Taia pass to go thirty metres and score under the sticks. Percival kicked the easy conversion for an 8-2 lead, which they held until the interval, despite an attempted Smith drop goal in the dying seconds.
The Rhinos got their opening try in the forty-seventh minute thanks to Ryan Hall who took a Liam Sutcliffe pass to cross a the end of a nice right to left passing move. Watkins added the extras from the touchline and the sides were tied up again at 8-8.
When Kyle Amor was penalised for being offsde at the play-the-ball inside his own twenty the Rhinos pointed at the sticks but Watkins failed to kick a simple looking penalty.
Brilliant Saints defence for three sets of six had kept the Rhinos at bay but eventually Adam Cuthbertson found the smallest of gaps to bounce off three attempted tackles to crash over for a try. Watkins added the two pointer and the Rhinos were ahead for the first time with fifteen minutes remaining.
On sixty-eight Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook took our Joel Moon as he chased his own kick and Watkins kicked the resulting two point penalty for an eight point margin at 16-8.
With five minutes remaining Danny Richardson gave the Saints a lifeline when he threw a dummy, ducked under a tackle and made it to the line. Percival kicked the two and the Rhinos lead was down to two points.
It was a nervy last few minutes for the Rhinos players and fans but they held on for the two point win which now puts them three points clear in second place and just two points short of guaranteeing a play-off position.
It wasn’t a classic game and at times looked decidedly amateurish but it is the South Standers who will go home happy with the win, and Saints who remain fifth and who will have an uphill struggle to make the four.
Rhinos: Walker, Briscoe, Watkins (4G), Sutcliffe L., Hall (T), Moon, McGuire, Cuthbertson (T), Parcell, Singleton, Ward, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett. Subs: Mullally, Keinhorst, Burrow, Delaney.
Saints: Lomax (T), Makinson, Morgan, Percival (3G), Grace, Fages, Smith, Amor, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Wilkin, Knowles. Subs: Walmsley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Richardson (T), Peyroux.
Referee: Ben Thaler.