Smith steers St Helens closer to showpiece

St Helens 28 Warrington 12

Warrington still have not won at Knowsley Road for 14 years – and they may have run out of chances. Despite the best of starts in this Super League qualifying semi-final, it was the same old story for Warrington against a Saints side that found inspiration from a returning exile.

Saints now have a week off and need to win just one more game to get to Old Trafford, while the Wolves must try to take the longer route to the Grand Final.

Injuries forced the home side to bring in Matty Smith, on loan at Salford all season, at scrum-half for his first game in more than two years. "It was a good move," said Mick Potter of the decision to bring back Smith, who has just signed on for two years with Salford. "He has proved his worth with Salford and he was worth his weight tonight even if he doesn't play another game."

It was another former St Helens half-back, however, who pulled all the strings in the opening minutes. After Sia Soliola had been penalised for a high tackle on Ben Harrison, Lee Briers found Chris Bridge with a cut-out pass to give him just enough space to put Matt King over in the corner.

Another penalty, this time for James Graham holding down Jon Clarke in the tackle, paved the way for the second try, with Briers using Richie Mathers as the extra man to release King again.

The rest of the first half belonged to Saints and particularly to Smith. His crafty grubber kick hit a post and a defender to create a converted try for Paul Wellens and his clever tactical kicking kept the Wolves under sustained pressure.

The try that gave Saints the lead was pure Keiron Cunningham, as the hooker spun out of a tackle and went 15 metres to score. As half-time approached, they extended that advantage, Graham crashing over from James Roby's short ball.

Kicks from Foster stretched the lead as Warrington's discipline creaked in the second half and their cause was lost when Chris Riley fumbled a kick and Wellens got the ball to Chris Flannery.

These teams could meet here again in two weeks, but that really is Warrington's last chance before Knowsley Road closes its gates for the final time.

St Helens Wellens; Foster, Gidley, Meli, Gardner; Wilkin, Smith; Graham, Cunningham, Hargreaves, Soliola, Flannery, Puletua.

Substitutes used Roby, Clough, Dixon, Emmitt.

Warrington Mathers; King, Bridge, Atkins, Riley; Briers, Monaghan; Morley, Clarke, Carvell, L.Anderson, Westwood, Harrison.

Substitutes used Solomona, Wood, Myler, Cooper.

Referee R.Silverwood (Mirfield).

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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor