JOHN Asiata was sin-binned after just 41 seconds as tries from Jack Welsby and Tommy Makinson secured hosts St Helens a hard-fought 12-4 Betfred Super League win over Leigh.

The Leopards captain, who was slammed by Saints boss Paul Wellens for his tackle technique in last season's Challenge Cup semi-final, was issued his quickfire yellow card for a low tackle on Sione Mata'utia.

Leigh hung in despite Welsby's opener, and briefly levelled the scores early in the second half through Zak Hardaker before Makinson's spurt clear and four points from the boot of Mark Percival saw Saints home.

The visitors' hopes of kick-starting their campaign after their opening day loss to Huddersfield looked in tatters when Asiata's early challenge sparked a mass confrontation and left them with the numerical disadvantage.

Saints' anger was palpable in light of Asiata's antics in the Cup match in July which left four Saints players nursing injuries - one of whom, Agnatius Paasi, is yet to return.

Wellens had then described Asiata's tackling as "reckless and dangerous", and accused the RFL of failing in their duty of care for neglecting to charge the player, although the rules were subsequently amended in the off-season.

Asiata's night to forget was complete just five minutes after his return when limped off with a bad-looking injury, in a further blow to the visitors' hopes of gaining a stranglehold.

But Adrian Lam's men rallied, Gareth O'Brien grounded inches from the line, then Ricky Leutele knocking as he tried to squeeze over in the corner.

Jonny Lomax brought an abrupt end to Kai O'Donnell's bid to dart through a gap in the Saints defence, and the hosts finally broke the deadlock on the half-hour when he nipped onto the end of a smart move sparked by Lewis Dodd.

Saints were unable to put more points on the board when Konrad Hurrell clattered over in the corner but lost possession under a terrific challenge from Brad Dwyer.

Leigh fired a warning that they were very much a live threat when Josh Charnley was denied a clear run by Makinson on the stroke of half-time, and within six minutes of the restart they were level.

Matt Moylan pressed down the right and after Welsby had superbly denied Lachlan Lam, Hardaker pressed through a gap on the next play only to see his subsequent conversion drift wide.

Saints responded immediately, Makinson galloping 40 metres after Dodd had twisted into a huge gap, leaving Percival with the simplest of kicks to take his side into double figures.

Percival kicked a further penalty to make it 12-4 after a Leigh error in the scrum, and Dwyer's late sin-bin for holding down in the tackle ended the visitors' hopes of muscling back into contention.