Four Pointers: St Helens 6 Leeds Rhinos 4
On a quiet opening night, it was a game of defensive excellence for both sides. Leeds kept Saints out on a number of occasions whilst Leeds struggled to find a way through on the road.
St Helens got the new season off to winning start as they got the better of visitors, Leeds Rhinos, in a 6-4 win. The boot of Mark Percival proving the difference between the sides.
It was a game where some of the older players proved influential for both Saints and Leeds, as Rob Burrow and James Roby shined for their clubs. However, some debutants showed some real promise and are likely to be hot prospects as the season progresses.
St Helens, who are relishing in youth development this year, handed a debut to Danny Richardson. At just 20-years old he had plenty to prove against seven-times Champions, Leeds, but he held himself well on the field and was involved in plenty of the action. The half-back was part of Saints’ unbeaten academy side in 2016 and showed his worth in his first bout as a first team player.
Leeds also handed a debut to new recruit Matt Parcell, although slightly older than Richardson, Parcell is still very much an up and coming prospect for Leeds. After a handful of appearances for Brisbane and Manly, Parcell joined Leeds to challenge himself and register more first team appearances. The 24-year old was key to the Leeds’ side on his first outing, seeing plenty of the ball and working closely with Rob Burrow, he will be disappointed not to have got the win after a positive first performance, but can definitely be a great help for Leeds as the season continues.
BURROW AS BENEFICIAL AS EVER
On his 500th Career Appearance, Rob Burrow was as important as always for the Rhinos. His career spanning 16-years has been special for Leeds, and he was a real difference maker on the Season opener against St Helens. A slow start to the match was soon squandered, Leeds had a few chances but eventually crossed the whitewash just after the 20 minutes, Burrow feeding Ablett to send Joel Moon over.
Every opportunity that came the Rhinos way, came through Rob Burrow. His experience and leadership showed all through the match.
Kieron Cunningham dubbed the game as “a classic”, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. At the newly branded ‘Totally Wicked Stadium’ the game was anything but that, not the thrilling opener many of us would have hoped for after the 4 month rest.
The new stadium name has been something of a humorous dig from other fans towards St Helens, not exactly an iconic name for a Stadium. However, it was the sport inside it that mattered, and although a low-scoring game, it was St Helens who claimed the victory and the two points. A mixture of high error counts form both sides, as well as its’ fair share of good defense, resulted in a game that lacked a bit of spark. But it is only the first game, with eight months left, we’re sure that there will plenty more excitement as the games draw on.
WHAT’S THE SCORE, SIR?
Although many will have been eagerly awaiting the return of Rugby League, and Sky’s Thursday/Friday/Saturday coverage, it didn’t quite go to plan for the media giants. Many viewers were left baffled as the whole first period of the match was shown without a visual match score, timer or tackle count. Confusing or what? However, Sky did latch on to the issue and managed to fix the problem in time for the second half kick-off. Panic averted!
St Helens (0) 6
Goals: Percival 1/1
Leeds Rhinos (4) 4
Goals: Sutcliffe 0/1
Referee: Phil Bentham
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium
Date/Time: Thursday 9th February 2017 – 20:00pm GMT