Jonny Lomax scored two tries on his long-awaited comeback from injury as St Helens edged past Leeds Rhinos 38-34 in a thrilling First Utility Super League match at Langtree Park.
Lomax marked his return to the side following a 13-month absence with a serious knee injury with a first-half brace, while Joe Greenwood and Theo Fages also crossed twice to end Saints' three-match losing streak at home and keep Leeds winless on the road.
Lomax dummied his way over early and Greenwood took a Luke Walsh offload to extend Saints' lead to 10-0 inside six minutes, but Leeds responded emphatically through tries from Ash Golding, Rob Burrow and Jimmy Keinhorst.
Lomax latched onto a Walsh kick to ensure the scores were level at 16-16 at half-time.
Kyle Amor produced a huge tackle on Zak Hardaker close to Leeds' line before pouncing on the loose ball to score in the 46th minute, a moment which triggered a flurry of tries.
Ash Handley put Leeds back in front with a fine solo effort, but Greenwood and Fages both crossed to give Saints a 10-point cushion.
Anthony Mullally crashed over to narrow the deficit, only for Fages to then complete his stylish double, with Keinhorst's second in the 74th minute setting up a frantic finish which saw Leeds come up just short.
St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham admitted watching Lomax make a try-scoring comeback brought a tear to his eye.
"It was quite an emotional night for me with Jonny and Percy (Mark Percival) and those boys coming back, especially Jonny," Cunningham said.
"I've been there with Jonny for a long period of time and we have a really close affiliation. Just to hear the Saints fans in full roar when Jonny goes over for that try, it brings a tear to your eye.
"It meant a lot to me and to the fans to see the kid in a Saints shirt again, seeing what it means to Jonny to get through it fine is immense.
"He's not played for 15 months and he just kept going. We did roll him in a few different positions to try and freshen him up but all credit to Jonny, he did a great job and had an influence on the game from the start to the finish."
A ninth defeat in 12 matches leaves Leeds struggling to make the top eight but coach Brian McDermott was proud of the efforts of his injury-decimated side.
"I feel extremely proud," McDermott said. "I'm lucky to be involved with a group of men who probably defy the odds.
"Obviously we've a fair chunk of our preferred starting 13 missing already, Carl Ablett didn't come back for the second half and Zak was missing for most of it, both of them weren't fit and it was a gamble to play them.
"And then we've got some blokes who have played that much game time so to be within touching distance on a number of occasions, it was brilliant.”
Not the result we wanted but cannot deny the effort showed by the boys! Stick with us #mot— Rob Burrow (@Rob7Burrow) April 22, 2016