Driven on by the memories of arguably the most dramatic Super League play-off game in history 12 months ago, St Helens winger Tommy Makinson is determined tonight’s clash with Warrington will end with happier memories.
Makinson was in the Saints team that were beaten by Castleford 23-22 in golden point extra-time in last year’s semi-finals – but not before Justin Holbrook’s side led that tie with three minutes of normal time remaining courtesy of Ryan Morgan’s try.
And Makinson admitted that heartbreak is driving him on to reach Old Trafford this weekend.
“It hurt a lot that, it was horrible,” he said.
“We should have won that game, and we had it wrapped up right until the last few seconds. It somehow got away from us, but credit to Castleford for the season they had last year, and they made it to the final. Maybe it’s us in that position this year.. who knows.”
Much had been made of an apparent blip by the runaway Super League leaders in the weeks leading up to tonight’s clash with Warrington, but the Saints have picked up their form again at just the right time.
And Makinson conceded that with the Saints long since assured of a home semi-final, keeping momentum going all the way through the season was a tough ask.
He said: “We’re well-coached under Justin and he expects a high level of performance from us every week. But at the same time, once that league was wrapped up, games became very weird.
“They’re not meaningless, but you’re already looking ahead to the play-offs. But we’ve hit some decent form, and semi-final time is when you need to be ready. If you’re not ready, you don’t deserve to be there.”
As leaders and with home advantage, St Helens are regarded as heavy favourites for tonight’s first semi-final: but Makinson does not see it that way.
He said: “You can talk about us being favourites but there’s no such thing in a play-off semi-final. The tag might be there, but we know Warrington have just as much right to be at Old Trafford as we do.”