A drop goal from Danny Richardson two minutes from the end condemned Leeds Rhinos to a fifth successive league defeat and strengthened St Helens lead at the top of the Betfred Super League table with a thrilling 23-22 victory at Headingley.
The Rhinos are one of only two teams to have beaten Saints in 2018 and they must be wondering how they failed to complete the double after producing a heroic performance against the odds.
The reigning champions went into the game with 12 injury absentees and played the game with only 16 men after coach Brian McDermott opted not to give a debut to 17-year-old prop Tom Holroyd, one of four teenagers in his 17-man squad.
St Helens, who suffered two two-point defeats at Headingley in 2017, were far from at their best against a Leeds team that produced one of their most courageous displays of a difficult season.
Tom Briscoe crossed twice and Mitch Garbutt and Brett Ferres also went over for the hosts, but Ben Barba scored a solo effort and set up Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival, with Ryan Morgan's effort setting up Richardson's grandstand finish.
“It was a great game, just exactly how I expected it to be, ” Saints coach Justin Holbrook said. “I knew it was going to be a really tough game.
“Leeds are a really dangerous side and I’m just really happy to come away with the win.
“To finish the way we did was great and obviously Danny played a massive part in that.
“It was outstanding for a young kid to kick the goal and then the field goal. I thought the game management in the end was outstanding and that’s pleasing because you’ve got to win in all different fashions."
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said: “I’ve got to give credit to Saints. When we scored that try at the back end, I did wonder what Saints have got if they regard themselves as genuine title contenders and, to be fair, they came up with the goods.
“There was a huge amount of pressure on Saints to come up with a performance against a weakened team that pretty much had little pressure on them, other than the fact that we need to start winning games and climbing up the ladder.
“I’ve rarely not been proud of the group of players I coach and tonight was an indicator of what we can do.
“I’ve been telling people for a few weeks that behind the scenes it’s good, there are similarities to a couple of years ago, we’ve got loads of fight in us.
“To be able to come up with a performance like that is an indicator of where we’re at but we lost so I’m not going to celebrate it.”