The early pacesetters in the First Utility #Super League table continued their consistent form at the weekend, with both Leeds Rhinos and St Helens claiming impressive victories away from home. Leeds retained their four point advantage over second-placed Saints after the match day ten fixtures, thanks in no small part to the contribution of veteran prop forward, Jamie Peacock's brace of tries, in their 20th successive triumph over Salford.
Saints had to dig deep before edging a close tussle at Huddersfield by just three points, ensuring that they remain on the trail of the Rhinos despite their dismal recent run of form.
Salford Red Devils 18 Leeds Rhinos 28 (Half-time 12-16)
The West Yorkshire side continued their stranglehold over Salford Red Devils with a solid five-try display, marking them out as perhaps the side to beat this season, after just one loss in ten matches so far. They also benefitted from an under strength Salford, who had a number of players unavailable for selection on the day, with the creativity of the suspended Rangi Chase probably most keenly missed.
Despite that, it was a close match in the first period, as the visitors had 37-year-old Peacock to thank for two converted tries to add to the score by Ash Handley. Salford had kept the deficit to just four points at that stage, with tries themselves from Lama Tasi and Niall Evalds in response.
Leeds stretched their lead after the interval when the lively Rob Burrow went over, only for Evalds to grab his second try to bring the home side back into the contest again. Their hopes were dashed though when the Rhinos grabbed their fifth try of the game through full-back Zak Hardaker, with Kevin Sinfield making the conversion to give him 8 points for the match.
Huddersfield Giants 8 St Helens 11 (Half-time 6-6)
The Giants now languish down in 9th place in the table after narrowly losing to Saints at the John Smith's Stadium in a bruising encounter, after being in the top four places only a few weeks ago, such has been the compact nature of the league this season up to this point. After taking the lead through a Leroy Cudjoe try on 4 minutes that was added to by a goal from Danny Brough, St Helens clawed themselves back level at 6-6 by half-time through a converted try for Jordan Turner just before the break.
The game remained interestingly poised in the second-half, as both sides traded kicks to maintain the equilibrium at 8-8, as tempers flared and penalties were conceded as a result. It was Saints who kept their nerve to come out on top eventually, with a Luke Walsh drop goal and a Travis Burns' goal proving the difference in the final analysis.
Saints brought their three-match losing streak to an end by beating the Giants and will hope that it re-ignites their season, after losing ground to arch rivals Leeds at the top in the last few games, as all of the leading sides attempt to keep themselves in the crucial play-off places. #Rugby