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Engage Super League XV Play-Offs Semi-Finals review by Simon Reuben
St Helens 42
Tries: Hargreaves 2, Wellens 2, Puletua, Meli, Cunningham
Goals: Foster 7
Huddersfield Giants 22
Tries: Lawrence 2, Lunt, Gilmour
Goals: Hodgson 3
St Helens said goodbye to Knowsley Road in style as they saw off Huddersfield Giants to book a fifth successive trip to Old Trafford.
Both teams came into this game bang on form. St Helens were looking for their fifth consecutive win and for the Giants they were looking to extend their winning run to eight.
But, St Helens showed their play-off credentials as they took the early lead after a close range kick from Kerion Cunningham was pounced on by Bryn Hargreaves for his first try in 17 months.
Minutes later Hargreaves spun his away over for a double and with Jamie Foster adding the extras Saints made it 12-0.
Huddersfield suddenly burst back into action and with two quick-fire tries we were all square at 12-12. Shaun Lunt got in out wide and then a brilliant long pass from Brett Hodgson sent Michael Lawrence in at the corner.
Going into the last ten minutes of the half the hosts gained some possession and an inside pass from Paul Clough sent Paul Wellens away who twisted his away over the line. Just before the break Lawrence re-gathered his own kick through to score as the Giants cut the gap to 18-16.
Having the momentum at the start of the second half, the Giants took control of the game and thanks to Lee Gilmour, who scored against his old club, the visitors moved into a 22-18 lead.
Coach Mick Potter sent St Helens legend Kerion Cunningham back on to the field and his presence lifted his team as they roared back into the game. Paul Wellens got on the end of a close range kick and moments later Tony Puletua crashed his way over.
Huddersfield began to loose their away as they started giving away penalties and the game was all over as Francis Meli strolled over out wide.
Fittingly after 120 years of rugby at Knowsley Road Cunningham had the honour of scoring the final try at this old ground as he scored his trademark try from dummy half.
So for Saints it's their fifth Grand Final on the bounce and after losing the last three they are hoping to defeat their great rivals Wigan at next week's Grand Final.
Leeds Rhinos 6
Wigan Warriors 26
Tries: Goulding, J Tomkins, Carmont, Gleeson
Goals: Richards 5
Wigan Warriors ended Leeds Rhinos hopes of a fourth consecutive Championship to reach next week's Grand Final with victory at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
After losing to Leeds two weeks ago in the 1st round of the play-offs, the League leaders were hoping for revenge.
Crucially with Wigan at near full strength the Rhinos were missing two of their marquee players in Danny McGuire and England Captain Jamie Peacock and in the end this showed.
The visitors took the early lead with a Pat Richards penalty goal on three minutes. Leeds got themselves into the game and after Wigan lost the ball in possession, skipper Kevin Sinfield was on hand as he raced in to score the first try of the night.
Four minutes before the interval after coming close earlier Darrell Goulding got Wigan on terms with his 26th try of the season. Richard tagged on the extras as the Warriors went into half time with a narrow 8-6 lead.
The game turned early into the second half as Wigan scored two tries which effectively won them the game. Scott Donald could not hold a high bomb and Joel Tompkins juggled the ball before going over for a scrappy try.
Minutes later the killer try came as Michael McIlorum might have lost control in the tackle, the ball ran loose and George Carmont took the ball to stroll over and on the nod of the Video referred, Wigan moved into a commanding 20-6 advantage.
From then on, Leeds through the kitchen sink at Wigan but some tremendous last ditch line defence kept the Rhinos out and with Leeds' luck running they got over the line through Danny Buderus but the video referee chalked off the try as he was ruled off-side from the previous play the ball.
With time running out Martin Gleeson went over to wrap the game up for the Warriors.
So in his first season in charge Michael McGuire got his team to Old Trafford, for the first time in 7 years, to play their great rivals St Helens next Saturday night.