Foster puts Saints in heaven

St Helens 26 Wigan Warriors 18: Wing's try and five goals stun Wigan as St Helens head to Old Trafford for Grand Final

Stobart Stadium

Saints-Leeds Grand Finals used to be the norm. It is a fair bet that few people expected one this year. In a game which, following the classic at Warrington on Friday night, continued to restore the good name of the play-off system, St Helens qualified for Old Trafford with a display of ferocious determination.

Frequently under the cosh on a hot night at Widnes, Saints kept coming up with the key defensive plays and then took their chances when they came. It was far from an error-free performance from a side that has had to battle adversity all season, but they were always willing and able to cover for their mistakes.

Helped by Saints' errors, Wigan dominated the first quarter of an hour. Jonny Lomax's kick out on the full, followed by an offside penalty, gave them their first opportunity, converted into two points by the boot of Pat Richards.

There seemed to be a forward pass from Brett Finch to Thomas Leuluai in the build-up to the game's first try, but there was no excuse for Jamie Foster's flailing kick at the bouncing ball, which only deflected it into the arms of Josh Charnley.

With a couple of other good chances going begging, it was a miracle that Wigan were not more than six points ahead before Saints started to play. A powerful run by the soon-to-depart James Graham got them moving and Lee Gaskell should have found a man in support.

Then Eamon O'Carroll, just into the game, was penalised for holdingdown Michael Shenton to put his side under pressure. Lomax ran across the defence and Gaskell went over.

Foster's second goal briefly put Saints ahead, but then O'Carroll, a prop who spent 15 months out injured and who is being released to join Hull, made up for his earlier indiscretion.

Taking a short pass from Leuluai, he appeared to have been grounded, but somehow managed to bounce over the try-line.

With Sam Tomkins obviously struggling with a leg injury, a four-point lead was no sort of insurance for Wigan, who saw Richards brought back early in the second half for a forward pass from George Carmont.

A couple of minutes later, a cunningkick by James Roby saw Paul Wellens bustle through for the 200th try of his distinguished career and Foster's conversion put Saints ahead once more, a penalty from the same player soon doubling the lead.

They finally looked to be on their way to Old Trafford when, on the last tackle of a set, a lightning pass from Jon Wilkin gave Foster just enough space to touch down in the corner.

A kick straight into touch by Gaskell put Saints under pressure again, but Sia Soliola's tackle on Harrison Hansen kept their line intact. Foster's tackle on Charnley did the same.

Six minutes from time, after Andy Coley had been penalised for a high tackle, Roby ensured that the coacheswill be heading down the East Lancashire Road on Saturday when he darted over. The hobbling Tomkins' late effort was a token one.

"I'm really proud of the blokes because they've beaten a champion side," said the St Helens coach Royce Simmons. "We had a lot of defending to do in big blocks."

Wigan's Michael Maguire blamed a failure to take their chances for an anti-climactic end to his two years in charge, admitting: "We didn't execute well enough tonight."

St Helens Wellens; Makinson, Shenton, Meli, Foster; Gaskell, Lomax; Graham, Roby, Puletua, Wilkin, Soliola, Clough. Substitutes used: Moore, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wheeler, Dixon.

Wigan S Tomkins; Charnley, J Tomkins, Carmont, Richards; Finch, Leuluai; Coley, McIlorum, Lima, Hansen, Hoffman, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Prescott, Farrell, O'Carroll, Tuson.

Referee P Bentham (Warrington)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there