Wane keen to keep Finch after victory in cup derby
Wigan Warriors 18 St Helens 4
The Wigan coach, Shaun Wane, outlined his determination to hang on to the half-back Brett Finch after the Australian put in a man-of-the-match display in this Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Finch, whose two-year contract with the Warriors runs out at the end of the season, helped create one try and scored the clincher with a sidestep past the St Helens full-back, Paul Wellens, as the holders joined last year's runners-up, Leeds, in today's semi-final draw.
"Finchy turns up when you need him to," said Wane. "Not many players do that to Paul Wellens. If there is a chance of hanging on to him I'd be keen to. There's lots of time left. He's enjoying his rugby and I'm enjoying watching him. We're speaking to him and his agent. I don't know where it's going to end up but if I get hold of Brett Finch for next year, I'll be really happy."
Saints led 4-0 thanks to Wellens's sixth-minute try but they were gradually overpowered as they failed for the first time in 12 years to reach the last four. Their acting head coach, Mike Rush, had no complaints.
"I didn't think we were on the ball offensively," he said. "Defensively we were pretty good – both teams were, to be fair, both teams struggled to get out of their own half. The Finch try killed us and that was frustrating because of the number of times we've seen that play this year. We told the players about it but we still jumped in. That's pressure and young players for you, it's just the way it goes.
"Offensively we were not the smartest. Maybe it would have been good enough to beat some teams but not a highly competitive team like Wigan. There were moments when we looked the better team but we didn't take our opportunities. You have to finish breaks in big games."
Tries from Sam Tomkins and Sean O'Loughlin, both converted by Josh Charnley, put Wigan into a 12-4 interval lead that they protected with some resolute defence in the second half. Wane was delighted with his team's defence and especially proud of a largely home-grown pack of forwards.
"I thought the desire we showed was absolutely outstanding," he said. "The one real positive for me was that our starting pack all came though our system. The coaches and scouts involved deserve a lot of credit for that.
"I thought we ran harder and showed more desire in defence. I'm not often chilled at half-time but I thought we were in control and if we kept hold of the ball, I knew this team have a lot of desire and passion.
"I don't want to sound arrogant but I thought we were the better team. In attack we were not at our best but defence-wise we were spot on."
Wigan Tomkins; Charnley, Hughes, Carmont, Gelling; Finch, Leuluai; Prescott, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used Lima, Farrell, Tuson, Lauaki.
St Helens Wellens; Makinson, Shenton, Wheeler, Meli; Hohaia, Lomax; Laffranchi, Roby, Perry, Flannery, Soliola, Wilkin. Substitutes used McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Flanagan, Clough, Magennis.
Referee R Silverwood (Mirfield).
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