Jonny Lomax grabbed two tries on a dream comeback to help St Helens return to winning ways with an extraordinary 38-34 triumph over Leeds in a scoring feast at Langtree Park.
Theo Fages and Joe Greenwood also touched down twice as Saints ended a three-match losing home run but it was Lomax who took the plaudits after coming through his first Super League game for more than 12 months.
The 25-year-old has been forced to overcome two knee re-constructions and there could hardly have been a more popular scorer as he grabbed the first and last tries of a first half that ebbed and flowed to ridiculous extremes.
Leeds, fielding a fifth different half-back pairing of the season, lost England full-back Zak Hardaker with concussion six minutes into the second half but they played their part in a 13-try spectacular and acting captain Rob Burrow certainly did not deserve to be on the losing side.
Lomax, who switched between full-back and wing, began the scoring spree after only four minutes when he took James Roby’s pass on the burst and wrong-footed Hardaker to open the scoring.
Luke Walsh added the first of his five goals and two minutes later made the break for second rower Greenwood to touch down and make it 10-0.
Handling errors from Jordan Lilley and Ashton Golding ensured the visitors remained on the back foot but the introduction of Liam Sutcliffe from the bench helped transform their fortunes.
A break from the irrepressible Burrow set up the position for Sutcliffe to get Golding over for Leeds’ first try with an outrageous 30-metre pass on 22 minutes, and seven minutes later Burrow raced over for the second after Lilley had pulled off an interception to spectacularly turn defence into attack.
That made it 10-10 and the Rhinos went in front seven minutes before the break when centre Jimmy Keinhorst slipped an attempted tackle by Atelea Vea to finish off another sweeping move, and Lilley’s second conversion opened up a six-point lead.
It was all-square by the interval, however, after Lomax raced onto Walsh’s grubber kick to register his second try and Saints regained the lead six minutes into the second half, albeit in somewhat fortuitous fashion.
Hardaker lost possession in a crunching tackle near his own line by former Leeds prop Kyle Amor, who had the simple task of picking up the loose ball to score his side’s fourth try.
The England international had to be helped from the field, with Sutcliffe taking his place at full-back, but the champions struck back with a solo try from winger Ash Handley to go in front for the second time.
Neither side could maintain the momentum for long, though, and the lead changed hands for a fifth time on 52 minutes when Greenwood forced his way over for his second try before Fages threaded his way through Leeds’ suspect defence five minutes later.
With both defences all at sea, substitute Anthony Mullally and Keinhorst added further tries for the visitors and Lilley took his goal tally to five from six attempts, but Fages’ second try effectively sealed it for Keiron Cunningham’s men.