|Betfred Super League semi-final|
|St Helens (3) 13|
|Try: Douglas Goals: Richardson 3 Drop-goal: Richardson 3|
|Warrington Wolves (2) 18|
|Tries: Hughes, Lineham 2 Goal: Roberts 3|
Tom Lineham’s two second-half tries against St Helens sent Warrington Wolves to their second Super League Grand Final in three years.
The first of Dan Richardson’s three drop-goals on an enthralling night put Saints 3-2 up at the end of an absorbing and bruising first half.
Luke Douglas grabbed the opening try for Saints immediately after the break.
Jack Hughes responded, with Lineham’s brace setting up an Old Trafford date with Wigan or Castleford on 13 October.
Saints’ defeat brings to an end a remarkable season in which they won 26 of 30 regular season games, but in the event went out in the semi-finals of both league and Challenge Cup.
Their departing full-back Ben Barba was unable to provide the spark, while former captain Jon Wilkin made his final outing in the Red Vee in this chastening loss.
Warrington, a side that finished 15 points adrift of the League Leaders’ Shield winners, made a confident start, piled early pressure on and deservedly took the lead thanks to Tyrone Roberts’ penalty after 10 minutes.
Just as a series of errors and penalties led to the opening points of the game, the same allowed Richardson to level with the boot.
While it was tense and at time suffocating first 40 minutes, both sides showcased their explosive attacking threats, with Saints’ Tommy Makinson busting through Wolves’ defence for the biggest moment of the first half.
Richardson showed great composure to slot his first drop-goal of the evening to give the hosts a slender half-time lead, which was quickly built on by Douglas after he punished Wolves for two early mistakes after the break.
After failing to gather the ball from kick-off, the visitors again could not to deal with a kick and the prop pounced.
Through Hughes, however, Wolves hit back to reduce the arrears.
While Saints – a side that boasted seven players named in Super League’s Dream Team – were still a menace going forward, all they could muster was a Richardson penalty before Lineham helped edge Warrington ahead with a fine diving finish in the corner.
Two more Richardson drop-goals, after he uncharacteristically put a penalty wide, put the hosts 13-12 up with nine minutes remaining, only for Lineham to dance over for the the decisive try two minutes later.
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook:
“We’ve worked hard all year to give ourselves the best chance and we didn’t play well enough.
“I want to give Warrington credit, we knew it was always going to be a hard game.
“I’m obviously proud of the effort, but we didn’t play well enough and that’s tough to take. We fell just short.
“As the scoreline shows, there wasn’t much in it but we made some poor decisions defensively and Warrington took their chances.”
Warrington head coach Steve Price:
“I’m super proud. We spoke all week about needing all 17 players to contribute their best game of the season and they certainly did that.
“To keep St Helens to one try on their own pitch was a super effort, the way we kept turning them away from our line was superb.
“They’ve been the number one offensive team and the most consistent team all season and to come here and produce a performance like that makes me so happy.
“We need a performance like that next week, we need to raise the bar again.”
St Helens: Barba; Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Richardson; Thompson, Knowles, Lees, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin.
Interchanges: Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Ashworth.
Warrington: Ratchford; Charnley, T King, Goodwin, Lineham; Brown, Roberts; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Thompson, Hughes, Westwood.
Interchanges: Philbin, Murdoch-Masila, G King, Patton.
Referee: Robert Hicks.