In one of the most thrilling Super League games of the season, Warrington Wolves came from behind in the final ten minutes to secure a dramatic 13-18 victory over St Helens, who had come into the game as the hot favourites.
In a game in which all the four tries were scored in the second half, the Wolves were helped by two tries to their winger Tom Lineham, who was returning from suspension.. But it wasn’t until he scored his second in the 74th minute that Warrington got their noses in front, and Saints were unable to get back into the game from that point.
The first-half scoring had been limited to a penalty for both sides from Danny Richardson and Tyrone Roberts, with Richardson adding a field goal shortly before the interval to secure a one-point lead.
The start of the second half looked to be decisive, as Stefan Ratchford’s kick-off went out on the full and Saints worked a position for Luke Douglas to touch down after the Wolves defence failed to deal with a grubber from Richardson, whose conversion put Saints seven points ahead.
But the Wolves replied soon afterwards when Jack Hughes got over in the corner, sidestepping Mark Percival, to bring the score back to 9-6.
Richardson then added a penalty to put St Helens five points ahead, but they couldn’t find the killer blow, while Warrington took the lead on 58 minutes, diving intelligently low into the corner, with Roberts giving Warrington the lead with a fine touchline conversion.
Saints were becoming increasingly anxious, but Richardson steadied their nerves, landing two more field goals to give them a 13-12 lead on 70 minutes.
But Lineham again took a hand, beating Richardson and stepping inside Barba for the crucial score of the game, with Roberts again adding the goal to complete the scoring.
After the game Saints coach Justin Holbrook admitted that the Wolves deserved to win, while jubilant Warrington boss Steve Price was celebrating what will be his second major final in his first season coaching the club, although he will be hoping for a better result than the Wolves suffered in their 20-14 defeat to the Catalans Dragons at Wembley in August.
St Helens: 23 Ben Barba, 2 Tommy Makinson, 3 Ryan Morgan, 4 Mark Percival, 19 Regan Grace, 1 Jonny Lomax, 18 Danny Richardson, 16 Luke Thompson, 15 Morgan Knowles, 20 Matty Lees, 11 Zeb Taia, 17 Dominique Peyroux, 12 Jon Wilkin, Subs: 9 James Roby (C), 13 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14 Luke Douglas, 21 Jack Ashworth,
Tries: Douglas Goals: Richardson 3; Field goals: Richardson 3
Warrington: 1 Stefan Ratchford, 4 Ryan Atkins, 3 Bryson Goodwin, 18 Toby King, 27 Josh Charnley, 20 Harvey Livett, 15 Declan Patton, 8 Chris Hill (C), 9 Daryl Clark, 10 Mike Cooper, 11 Jack Hughes, 13 Ben Murdoch-Masila, 34 Ben Westwood, Subs: 17 Joe Philbin, 19 George King, 16 Sitaleki Akauola, 22 Morgan Smith, Also in 19-man squad, 24 Luis Johnson, 30 Bodene Thompson.
Tries: Hughes, Lineham 2; Goals: Roberts 3
A full report, photos and analysis of this game will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express