Yates' verdict: Walmsley and Thompson are top of the props

Jonny Lomax goes over for a try against Leeds
Jonny Lomax goes over for a try against Leeds
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What a spectacle and what a great advertisement for Super League!


Saints and Leeds Rhinos invariably deliver the goods and it was no different on Friday when the hosts notched their third successive win of the new campaign in an epic encounter which had more twists and turns than a country lane.

Luke Thompson is tackled by Trent Merrin (left), and Adam Cuthbertson

Luke Thompson is tackled by Trent Merrin (left), and Adam Cuthbertson

It was impossible to take your eyes off the game for hardly a second, whether in the ground or glued to your TV sets, and if you blinked part of the action would pass you by.

Tries disallowed at crucial times, the lead changing hands, and hardly anybody in the 11,000-strong crowd leaving the Totally Wicked Stadium until the curtain had come down on an 80 minute thriller summed up the night in a nutshell and more importantly, as far as the home crowd were concerned, Saints picking up two valuable and hard-earned points.

Alex Walmsley and fellow prop Luke Thompson were outstanding as they scored three tries between them to wipe out a shock 22-10 interval deficit and help steer Saints home 27-22.

Walmsley's brace was perfectly timed - coming only minutes into the second half - and will have been particularly pleasing for the England international who missed most of last season's campaign suffering from a serious neck injury which required surgery.

The 28-year-old said: ''It was a massive result for us and to keep a champion side like Leeds scoreless in the second half was a reflection of what we are doing both on and off the field.

Tommy Makinson on the charge

Tommy Makinson on the charge

''We knew we would be in with a shout despite looking a little shaky at the back late on in the first half but we pride ourselves on our defensive ability and in the end it helped carry us through.''

Thompson, too, will look back on his 62nd minute solo effort with a degree of pride, weaving his way past a posse of defenders and with Lachlan Coote landing the extras, Saints were in the driving seat once more.

Skipper James Roby then put the icing on the cake with a last-gasp drop goal - his first-ever for the club after making his senior debut in 2004 against Widnes.

The hooker said: ''Showing the right attitude, rolling up our sleeves and getting back to basics was key to our second-half recovery.

''We play a team sport and can't really do everything on our own. We all get our individual joy, if you like, through the efforts of everyone around us which often goes unnoticed by the general public.''

But there was nothing unnoticed about the blistering first half dash by winger Regan Grace which brought back memories to fans long in the tooth and weaned on the exploits of former Knowsley Road speed merchants,Tom Van Vollehoven, Anthony Sullivan, Darren Albert and Ade Gardner..

The Welsh flier was eventually stopped a few yards from the try-line but had the satisfaction of seeing Jonny Lomax crash over from the subsequent move to post Saints' second try.

The hosts also had to overcome the second minute loss of new boy Kevin Naiqama who got an knock in his eye and then failed a concussion test but is expected to be fit for Thursday night's game at Salford Red Devils which will be screened by Sky, kick-off 7.45pm.

Substitute Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook - making his 250th appearance - stepped into the Fijian centre's boots and once more showed his versality and is still going as strong as ever at 33.

Teams - St Helens:: Coote; Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Knowles. Replacements: Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Lees.

Leeds: Walker; Briscoe, Watkins, Hurrell, Handley; Lolohea, Myler; Peteru, Dwyer, Merrin, Ferres, Sutcliffe, Ward. Replacements: Cuthbertson, Singleton, Oledzki, Smith.

Referee: Robert Hicks(Oldham).

Tries Saints: Fages (5 mins), Lomax (9 mins), Walmsley (45 and 50 mins), Thompson (62 mins).

Goals: Percival (10 and 45 mins), Coote (63 mins) Drop goal: Roby (79 mins)

Tries Leeds: Watkins (12 mins), Hurrell (23 mins) Handley (34 mins), Oledzki (36 mins).

Goals Lolohea (13, 24 and 37 mins).