Australian coach Kristian Woolf accused his St Helens team of taking their foot off the gas after they struggled to overcome injury-hit 12-man Leeds in the third round of the Challenge Cup.
England winger Tom Makinson scored 18 points on Saturday as Woolf’s Super League champions dumped the holders out of the sport’s most famous knockout competition with a 26-18 third-round win.
Makinson kicked five goals and scored two tries, as did fellow winger Regan Grace, as Saints took advantage of the 45th-minute dismissal of former New Zealand international forward Zane Tetevano for a high and late tackle on half-back Theo Fages.
But Woolf was not happy after his side ended up labouring to a victory that edges them closer to ending their 13-year wait for a cup success.
“We’re in the hat and that’s all that counts,” said Woolf, the former interim head coach of Newcastle Knights in the NRL.
“I wouldn’t put it down as our best performance but we found a way to win.
“A couple of times we thought we had it won but took our foot off a little bit and all of a sudden the game was back on.”
The Rhinos, whose skipper Luke Gale joined their lengthy injury list with a broken thumb, had trailed 20-6 after an hour but gave themselves hope as replacement hooker Brad Dwyer went over for two tries in six minutes, both converted by Rhys Martin.
St Helens’ quarter-final opponents will be Leigh or Huddersfield, who play their third-round tie on Sunday.
Last year’s beaten finalists Salford secured their place in the last eight with a 68-4 win over injury-hit Championship side Widnes.
Debutant centre Matt Costello and new full-back Morgan Escare scored two tries apiece for the Red Devils while Krisnan Inu had a fine day with the boot, kicking 10 conversions from 12 attempts.
Catalans Dragons, who made history in 2018 by becoming the first overseas team to win the Cup, clinched their place in the last eight by knocking out Wakefield for the second successive year.
Wales international Gil Dudson scored his first try for the Dragons as they overpowered Trinity 26-6.
Hull FC booked a quarter-final meeting with Wigan as they beat Featherstone 34-14.
Carlos Tuimavave and Josh Griffin had a pair of tries each while Bureto Farimo and Jordan Johnstone also crossed. Jake Connor landed five from six conversions.