St Helens ease through to the final showdown

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Rugby League

St Helens 25 London Broncos 14

The domestic season will end in what is surely the most fitting way, with St Helens facing Wigan, the side whose hegemony they have usurped in both the Challenge Cup and the Championship, in the Stones Premiership final.

If St Helens were suffering any hangover from this week's title celebrations, then London Broncos gave them a quite unwarranted amount of help in shaking it off during the first half. A series of errors presented Saints with their first three tries, and a tendency to give away too much possession and too many penalties prevented the Broncos ever turning this semi-final into the contest it might have been.

After an early exchange of penalties, Tony Martin, one of the finds of the season, was found out by Bobbie Goulding's kick-through and Joey Hayes pounced to score. Nor could Martin tidy up the high kick from Goulding that led to the St Helens captain going over for their second try.

Neat approach work by Greg Barwick set up a try for Graham Strutton that briefly raised London's hopes. But, with dreadful timing, Russell Bawden lost the ball near his own line just before half-time and Anthony Sullivan inflicted the punishment.

A quick tap on their own 20-metre line brought Sullivan's second try early in the second half. Offences at play-the-ball gave Goulding two easy penalties and resulted in Tony Rea spending 10 minutes in the sin- bin.

Strutton's second try carried some suggestion of what might have been if London could have played with more control and continuity. Instead, Goulding ran down the clock with a drop goal that left London to reflect on the frustrations of having lost by only 11 points, despite all the obstacles they had strewn in their own path.

Saints' major worry ahead of the last showdown of the season was that they finished the match with Chris Morley and Chris Joynt injured on the bench. Their depth in the forwards could be set for a further test in six days' time.

St Helens: Prescott, Hayes, Hunce, Newlove, Sullivan, Martyn, Goulding, Terelini, Cunningham, Fogerty, Joynt, Morley, Hammond. Substitutes: McVey, Haigh, Pickervance.

London Broncos: Martin, Strutton, Barwick, Krause, Maguire, Tollett, Langer, Allen, Rae, Mestrov, Rosolen, Gill, Matterson. Substitutes: Bawden, Paul, Pitt, Dynevor.

Referee: S Cummins (Widnes)

Several people were taken to hospital after control barriers collapsed during Keighley Cougars' 41-28 victory over Hull in the Divisional Premiership semi-final at Cougar Park. Police also made many arrests during crowd trouble, which included a pitch invasion during the first half.

Comments