Leigh 20-12 St Helens: Five takeaways as Leopards stun the champions

Drew Darbyshire
Zak Hardaker Leigh Leopards SWpix

Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix

Following a stunning 20-12 win for Leigh over champions St Helens, here’s our five takeaways from the match at the Leigh Sports Village.

Hardaker shows his class

The former Man of Steel put in a superb display. He was at the heart of everything Leigh did in attack and was a threat to Saints all night.

He played at centre but caused plenty of problems for the Saints defence when he came in field with the ball.

Hardaker is a huge signing for the newly-promoted club, and he is proving to be a great coup so far.

Saints’ second defeat on the spin

There wouldn’t have been many tipping Leigh to beat the world champions in this one.

Paul Wellens’ side couldn’t bounce back from their 25-24 defeat to Leeds last week as they fell short to the impressive Leopards.

Saints looked sluggish with the ball, which is very uncharacteristic. Could their trip to Australia be catching up with them now?

But the focus should be more on how good Leigh were in the second half, rather than a below-par performance from Saints.

In-form Charnley

The Leigh star is one of the in-form wingers in the competition right now.

Prior to Round Four of Super League getting underway, Charnley was the league’s leader metre maker, averaging 190 metres in the first three games.

And he continued his good form against Saints, finishing off a fine passing move in the corner. If he carries on this form, then he could be in Shaun Wane’s England plans for the mid-season test against France.

LMS’ huge milestone

St Helens stalwart Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook made his 450th career appearance.

It’s a huge milestone for any player, but for a forward who plays the game as tough as he does, its an incredible achievement.

LMS has made 347 appearances for the world champions since joining the club in 2011. He played 97 games for Harlequins between 2006-10.

McCarthy-Scarsbrook won two caps for birth nation England before switching his allegiance to Ireland at the 2017 World Cup.

Another good matchday experience

Leigh put on a superb matchday show in their first game back in Super League in Round One against Salford, where they had Scouting for Girls and The Fuel Girls perform.

And they backed it up in their second home match by having T’Pau perform 80s hits such as China In Your Hand and Heart and Soul. There was also another impressive fireworks display.

The club are certainly going above and beyond to make their games more than just a rugby league game now. It feels like a proper event and they deserve praise for that.

How it happened

  • 5′ Tommy Makinson adds a penalty goal to give St Helens the lead. (0-2)
  • 11′ St Helens half-back Jonny Lomax scores the first try of the game. Makinson converts. (0-8)
  • 20′ Saints ship the ball wide to Jon Bennison who scores. (0-12)
  • Leigh started to come back into the game towards the end of the first half with some good attacking shape, but their execution let them down.
  • HT: 0-12
  • 57′ Josh Charnley goes over in the corner to pull one back for Leigh. (4-12)
  • 60′ Leopards captain John Asiata leaves the field for a head injury assessment.
  • 64′ St Helens prop Matty Lees is sent to the sin bin for a swinging arm on Leigh full-back Gareth O’Brien.
  • 66′ Tom Briscoe scores Leigh’s second try. Zak Hardaker couldn’t convert. (8-12)
  • 72′ Zak Hardaker goes over for the Leopards. He converts his own try to give the Leopards the lead for the first time in the game. (14-12)
  • 76′ Leigh forward Joe Shorrocks, who is loan from Wigan, scored to secure the win for the Leopards. Hardaker converts. (20-12)
  • FT: 20-12

How they lined-up

Leigh: O’Brien; Briscoe, Hardaker, Leutele, Charnley; Mellor, Lam; Amone, Davis, Mulhern, Shorrocks, O’Donnell, Asiata. Subs: Nakubuwai, Seumanufagai, Chamberlain, Ipape.

Ties: Charnley, Briscoe, Hardaker, Shorrocks Goals: Hardaker 2

St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Davies, Percival, Bennison; Lomax, Dodd; Paasi, Roby, Lees, Royle, Bell, Knowles. Subs: Walmsley, Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wingfield.

Tries: Lomax, Bennison Goals: Makinson 2

Attendance: 7,743

What they said

St Helens coach Paul Wellens said: “At the start of the game I thought we were totally dominant and in control. We put ourselves under pressure and at a place like this when the crowd starts sensing something, it’s difficult.

“If we don’t learn and learn quickly it will keep happening. To Leigh’s credit, they played well and challenged us with the ball. We watched their game last week against Hull KR and knew how big a challenge it was going to be.

“We have got to improve going forward. I thought in the first half we linked up well and challenged them on the edges but we went away from it in the second half. We looked disjointed and that’s something we have to look at quickly.”

Leigh coach Adrian Lam said: “I am very pleased though I was frustrated at half-time. I felt confident that if we could get hold of the ball we would score points. I thought some things were in place and we defended tough, it was a positive that we were only 12-0 down at half-time.

“It’s a step forward for the group. Saints were down on troops and it was probably a good time to play them after their recent trip to Australia. It’s an amazing night for the club and hopefully it will bring the playing group together.”

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