Saints take their first steps on 2021 journey
SAINTS.24 LEIGH CENTURIONS 25
The result at the end of the night was of secondary importance compared to the benefits in terms of increasing fitness levels and giving players an opportunity to have an 80-minute hit out ahead of the 2021 Betfred Super League season.
Champions St Helens locked horns with neighbours Leigh at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Saturday night in a much-needed trial game which also marked the launch of winger Tommy Makinson's testimonial year.
The fact that the initial team sheet contained more than 40 players from the two clubs told its own story and any lessons learned will hopefully be a stepping stone to better things in the year ahead for both.
It was also ironic the clash ended in a similar dramatic fashion to Saints' Grand Final victory over Wigan Warriors a few months earlier but on this occasion Ryan Brierley's drop goal 33 seconds from time gave opponents Leigh a last-gasp win.
John Duffy's boys trailed 18-6 at the interval but stormed back to draw level at 24-24 before ice-cool Brierley landed the winning one-pointer.
Makinson, who scored two tries and four goals, said: ''We were disappointed by the result, which wasn't what we wanted, but it will stand us in good stead for the first league game against Salford Red Devils."
He also thanked everyone who so far had got behind him in his testimonial year.
Head coach Kristian Woolf said: ''I got what I wanted out of the game and it also gave a number of our youngsters players, who had only played one game last season against Salford an opportunity to show me where they had improved.''
Teams - St Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Simm, Percival, Naiqama, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Bentley, Mata'utia.
Subs: Amour, Passi, Smith, Dodd, Wingfield, Eaves, Norman, Nisbet, Foster, Rizzelli, Davies, Royle.
Tries: Makinson (2), Naiqama, Thompson. Goals: Makinson (4/4)
Leigh: Brierley, Russell, Thornley, Sa'u, Brand, Ellis, Mellor, Mason, Hood, Ioane, Helliwell, Gee, Thompson. Subs : Wildie, Gerrard, Peteru, Sidlow, Mullen, Spencer.
Tries: Ellis, Russell, Brierley, Sidlow. Goals: Ellis (4/4). Drop goal: Brierley.
Referee: James Child.