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)

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower