Waterhouse puts Wolves in first ever Grand Final
St Helens 18 Warrington Wolves 36
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Sunday 30 September 2012
Warrington reached their first Super League Grand Final at the expense of neighbours who had been to the last six, propelled there by two tries in three minutes from the Australian second-rower Trent Waterhouse.
Although they looked like the side who knew their way to Old Trafford for a good half of the game, Saints were outgunned as it progressed. The Wolves were ultimately good value for the win that sees them take on Leeds in the final next Saturday. "It's a fantastic achievement for the club," said their coach Tony Smith.
As expected, Warrington had Ben Westwood back in action to give their pack a more formidable look, albeit with a heavily strapped right knee.
It was Saints, however, who carried the early threat, with a strong run by Makinson and a try ruled out for Jon Wilkin's forward pass to Francis Meli. They took the lead after 13 minutes, thanks to Makinson's acrobatic finish in the corner.
The Wolves' response came when Wilkin lost the ball as he crumpled in a tackle. Brett Hodgson chimed into the attacking line with his usual impeccable timing and supplied the scoring pass to Chris Riley, as well as landing the conversion that gave Warrington the lead.
They soon found themselves under even more pressure, which paid off when Meli scored Saints' second try from Mark Flanagan's long, looping pass.
When the Grand Final specialist claimed a quick third, they seemed to be taking over completely. It was Wilkin's high bomb that caused the trouble, Hodgson losing it under pressure from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Paul Wellens following up for a simple try.
Warrington were right back in it by the end of a richly entertaining first half, Lee Briers sending Simon Grix steaming through a gap to cut the margin to two points.
The Wolves grasped the initiative with the first try of the second half, the video referee ruling that Joel Monaghan had not knocked on before touching down Briers' kick.
Then it was time for Waterhouse – who has bene a growing influence as the season has gone on – to settle it. First he took Ryan Atkins' pass to power over; then he ripped his way through some irresolute tackling for his repeat.
Riley also got his second, from a simple over-lap, and although Meli got one back for Saints it came too late. "We were really pleased at half-time," said Saints' caretaker coach Mike Rush. "But Warrington were fantastic and Trent Waterhouse was the best I've seen him."
St Helens Wellens; Makinson, Flannery, Jones, Meli; Hohaia, Lomax; Perry, Roby, Laffranchi, Puletua, Flanagan, Wilkin. Subs used Soliola, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Clough, Dixon.
Warrington Hodgson; Riley, Ratchford, Atkins, J.Monaghan; Briers, Myler; Hill, Higham, Harrison, Westwood, Waterhouse, Grix. Subs used Morley, M.Monaghan, Wood, Cooper.
Referee B Thaler (Wakefield).
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