SAINTS’ opening two tries flattered to deceive against Championship title favourites Leigh Centurions.

The new-look visitors, relegated last season, twice took over the lead at the back end of an entertaining first half.

A knock-on in the act of playing the ball by Jamie Acton led to Saints scoring from their opening set after two minutes.

Ben Barba accelerated on to a Jonny Lomax pass and from his half break he had the England international on his inside for the return ball to cross from 10 metres.

Mark Percival struck his conversion attempt wide from well within range.

Bodene Thompson dropped the ball with the try-line begging after 10 minutes and Leigh were then stung at the other end too as Barba collected from Smith and then, with a little fancy footwork, bamboozled four defenders to touch down from what had appeared to be a nothing situation.

This time Smith had a go at the kicking and was well off target from slightly further distance away.

Leigh showed enterprise in attack and from a Regan Grace knock-on deep inside his own half the visitors took their opportunity patiently, Craig Hall eventually getting a long arm free to slip a pass for Scotland hooker Liam Hood to cross after 24 minutes.

Ben Reynolds’ kicking boots must also have been left at home.

Four minutes later Leigh were ahead.

With options either side of the ruck, Drew Hutchison steered his team to the left where French back-rower Kevin Larroyer barged his way over. This time Reynolds was able to improve the try for a 12-10 lead.

Barba produced the magic again to restore Saints’ advantage after 33 minutes.

Coming from deep behind Smith to take his pass with a juggle, again he slithered between three defenders for Saints’ third unconverted score.

Again Leigh hit back, striking on Saints’ right once again.

Hall’s incisive interaction from full-back gave Peter Mata’utia enough room to squeeze out a pass for former Saint Jack Owens to dive over in the corner, too far out for Reynolds to add the extras.

Saints: Ben Barba; Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Regan Grace; Jonny Lomax, Matty Smith; Kyle Amor, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Zeb Taia, Dominique Peyroux, Jon Wilkin. Subs: Adam Swift, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Morgan Knowles, Danny Richardson, Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth, Jake Spedding, James Bentley, Matty Costello, Carl Burrows.

Leigh: Craig Hall; Matty Dawson, Ben Crooks, Pater Mata’utia, Jack Owens; Ben Reynolds, Drew Hutchison, Harrison Hansen, Daniel Mortimer, Jamie Acton, Kevin Larroyer, Bodene Thompson, Jordan Thompson. Subs: Liam Hood, Larne Patrick,Kyle Lovett, Nathan Mason, Greg Richards, Nick Gregson, Jonah Cunningham, Jack Blagbrough, Ilias Bergal, Jordan Dezaria.

Referee: Phil Bentham