Smith steers St Helens closer to showpiece
St Helens 28 Warrington 12
Saturday 11 September 2010
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).
Latest in Sport
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid superstar 'sends his hair stylist to look after his waxwork once a month'
Six things we learnt: Louis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United; Henderson becoming the genuine heir to Gerrard
Terminally-ill Club Brugge fan Lorenzo Schoonbaert delays euthanasia appointment to see his beloved football club 'win one last time'
Steven Gerrard tribute match: An alternative XI the Liverpool player wouldn't want crashing the Anfield party
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 4 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests