St Helens enter Super League defensive record books following victory at Leeds Rhinos

Aaron Bower
Matt Whitley St Helens Alamy

St Helens made it four wins from five games at the start of the new Super League season with victory at Leeds Rhinos on Friday night: but it was their defensive efforts which once again caught the eye.

Paul Wellens’ side conceded just eight points at Headingley on Friday, meaning that after four games, they have shipped just 40 points: and over half of those came last week against Salford. That is an astonishing and impressive average of just eight points per game.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, it nudges the Saints into the Super League record books when it comes to best defensive starts. In fact, only three sides in the competition’s entire history have conceded fewer points than the Saints’ total of 40: and two of those were St Helens sides, too. Here’s a look at the top five.

=4 St Helens – 40 (2024)

Paul Wellens’ class of 2024 are in fine defensive form, underlined by their victory at Leeds on Friday night.

They are conceding just eight points per game on average, with more than half of those coming against Salford. They have nilled Huddersfield Giants in that time, too. Their next game will be considerably more tough though – world champions Wigan Warriors on Good Friday in the derby.

Round 1: 40-4 v London Broncos (H)

Round 2: 28-0 v Huddersfield Giants (A)

Round 3: 12-4 v Leigh Leopards (H)

Round 4: 20-24 v Salford Red Devils (H)

Round 5: 18-8 v Leeds Rhinos (A)

=4. Huddersfield Giants – 40 (2010)

One of two instances in Super League history when a side has conceded 40 points or fewer in the first five games and not been called St Helens!

Nathan Brown’s Giants began 2010 brilliantly defensively though peculiarly, they did lose two of their first five games. They conceded 14 in defeats to Hull FC and Warrington – but nilled Wakefield Trinity and Hull KR.

Round 1: 24-12 v Bradford Bulls (H)

Round 2: 6-14 v Hull FC (A)

Round 3: 30-0 v Hull KR (A)

Round 4: 10-14 v Warrington Wolves (H)

Round 5: 52-0 v Wakefield Trinity (A)

3. St Helens – 34 (2021)

Kristian Woolf’s side’s defensive efforts were consistently superb throughout his time at the club, conceding only 22 points across their opening four Super League games in 2021.

That year began with three games played behind closed doors at ‘neutral’ venues due to the COVID-19 Pandemic against Salford, KR and Wakefield respectively. But, perhaps in their favour, the Totally Wicked Stadium was the venue chosen to host all of the Super League action in the two latter of those, Rounds 2 & 3 both in familiar territory.

A nilling of KR in Round 2 contributed heavily to the defensive record, with victory against Leeds in the Challenge Cup in-between the early opening rounds of the league season. Woolf’s men would end the campaign 2nd on the ladder, behind Catalans, but would go on to beat the French outfit at Old Trafford in the Grand Final.

Round 1: 29-6 v Salford Red Devils (N – Headingley)

Round 2: 25-0 v Hull KR (N – Totally Wicked Stadium)

Round 3: 34-6 v Wakefield Trinity (N – Totally Wicked Stadium)

Round 4: 18-10 v Huddersfield Giants (A)

Round 5: 22-12 v Leigh Centurions (A)

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2. St Helens – 28 (2022)

The following, as they completed their ‘four-peat’ of Grand Final victories, we saw Saints open the 2022 campaign with victories against Catalans, Hull FC, Wakefield Trinity, Hull KR and Warrington.

In each of those games, Kristian Woolf’s men restricted their opponents to a single digit on the scoreboard, conceding eight in Rounds 1 & 4 against Catalans & KR respectively, sandwiching the six against Hull in Round 2 and four against Wakefield in Round 3. They then kept Warrington to just two points in Round Five.

In what would be Woolf’s final season at the helm, the Red V lifted the League Leaders’ Shield before beating Leeds at Old Trafford, creating unprecedented history.

Round 1: 28-8 v Catalans Dragons (H)

Round 2: 38-6 v Hull FC (A)

Round 3: 20-4 v Wakefield Trinity (H)

Round 4: 42-8 v Hull KR (A)

Round 5: 28-2 v Warrington (H)

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1. Bradford Bulls – 29 (2000)

The Bulls are the standout side when it comes to defensive efforts after five rounds of a Super League season: conceding an extraordinarily low total of 29 in the 2000 season. Heavily contributing to that were the four and two they conceded in Rounds 2 & 3 respectively against Warrington & Huddersfield-Sheffield, who we now know as the Giants.

Either side of those, Brian Noble’s Bulls beat St Helens 32-10 and Castleford 44-12. With a now-uncommon schedule in 2000, by the time March had ended, Bradford had booked their spot in the Challenge Cup final which they’d go on to win – in April – against Leeds at Murrayfield up in Edinburgh. They then beat Salford by the most bizarre scoreline the competition has ever seen: 52-1, with Salford’s only point coming from a Martin Offiah drop goal!

Round 1: 32-10 v St Helens (A)

Round 2: 58-4 v Warrington Wolves (H)

Round 3: 60-2 v Huddersfield-Sheffield (A)

Round 4: 44-12 v Castleford Tigers (H)

Round 5: 52-1 v Salford (H)

FRIDAY REACTION: The Debrief: St Helens show their mettle, Lachlan Miller brilliance, Leeds Rhinos’ wasteful attack