Engage Super League XVI Qualifying Semi-Finals Review

Warrington Wolves 24
Tries:   Riley 2, J. Monaghan, King
Goals:  Bridge 4

Leeds Rhinos 26
Tries:   Hall 2, Ablett, Burrow
Goals:  Sinfield 6

Att: 12,074

Leeds Rhinos reached their fourth Grand Final in five years with a dramatic late win over League Leaders Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The Wolves came into this Semi-Final as odds on favourites against the Rhinos, who they had defeated in their two previous meetings this year by amassing over 40 points in each game.

But the underdogs Leeds were in good form, since their agonising loss at Wembley, they had won four on the bounce and despite finishing fifth they had the momentum behind them.

And it was the visitors who would strike first when, from a Danny McGuire kick, the returning Carl Ablett pounced for the opening try on four minutes. Skipper Kevin Sinfield added the extras.

On 15 minutes the Wolves were back on parity as Matt King knocked the ball back for Chris Bridge to send Joel Monaghan over.

Warrington lost Brett Hodgson to a ligament injury and they were forced to switch Chris Riley Full-Back.

And On 32 minutes Riley was on hand to take a long pass from Michael Monaghan to score underneath the posts as the hosts went into the break with a 12-6 lead.

Leeds came out strong at the start of the second half and within a minute they were level as Ryan Hall intercepted a Simon Grix pass and raced in from 55 meters.

After running a penalty, Warrington re-took the lead as a Richard Myler long pass found Matt King who powered his way over the line. Bridge kicked the touchline conversion to make it 18-12.

However, the Rhinos turned the game on its head with a devastating two try burst in three minutes. Rob Burrow made the break for the first, Danny McGuire carried on the move and, when he was eventually collared by Ryan Atkins, he was able to offload to the supporting Hall who went over for a double.

The Wolves were still reeling when full-back Brent Webb broke through their first line of defence to send Burrow on his way and Sinfield's fourth goal made it 24-18 as Leeds took hold of the game.

Despite misfiring, the Wolves managed to get on terms 12 minutes from time as Lee Briers finding the inside pass for Riley to go over for his second score of the game.

In dramatic final 10-minutes of the game King was held inches short of the line and Sinfield missed a penalty goal from 52 meters out.

Then, with just under two minutes left on the clock Myler was caught offside after charging down Sinfield's drop-goal attempt and the Leeds captain maintained his composure to slot the 25-metre penalty between the posts.

It was the decisive act of a pulsating finale which reduced Warrington's players to tears and enabled the Rhinos to become the first team from outside the top three to reach Old Trafford.


St Helens 26
Tries:   Gaskell, Wellens, Foster, Roby
Goals:  Foster 5

Wigan Warriors 18
Tries:   Charnley, O'Carroll, S. Tomkins
Goals:  Richards 3

Att: 9,421

St Helens came from behind to defeat Wigan Warriors at the Stobart Stadium and book their place in a sixth successive Grand Final.

In a repeat of week 1 in the play-offs, these great bitter rivals went at each other again this time for a place at Old Trafford.

Wigan dominated the early stages and they were rewarded with a Pat Richards penalty goal.

Thomas Leuluai stabbed a neat enough kick to the corner, Jamie Foster's attempt to kick clear ended with an air shot and he then missed his tackle as Josh Charnley scored his 23rd try of the season.

It should have been even better for the visitors as Joel Tomkins failed to hold onto a scoring pass from brother Sam with the Saints line gaping.

This was a big turning point in the game as St Helens got a foothold and hit back with try by Lee Gaskell who made up for bombing a score moments earlier. Foster added the extras.

Just before the break substitute forward Eamon O'Carroll took a good pass from Leuluai and powered his way over the line to score his first try for nearly three years, as the Warriors went into half time leading 12-8.

Shortly after the restart Paul Wellens levelled things up at 12-12 when Wigan allowed him in wide out on the left for the 200th try of his career, Foster adding the extras and then knocking over a penalty for a four-point cushion.

Four crucially became eight when Foster scored in the left corner, leaving Saints with a useful 20-12 lead going into the final quarter.

Wigan upped the tempo looking to get back on terms but Sia Soliola snaked out an arm to stop a charging Harrison Hansen before Michael Shenton did the same to deny Sam Tomkins. And, having withstood everything Wigan could throw at them; it was all over bar the shouting when England hooker James Roby nipped in from dummy half.

Sam Tomkins made the score line a bit fairer with the final score of the night, but  in their final game at their temporary home, after another classic derby  St Helens claimed the win and a place in the Grand Final.

So for the first time in the summer era the top two teams from the regular season have failed in making the Grand Final.

Also for the fourth time in five years St Helens will take on old foes Leeds Rhinos next Saturday night, hoping to end their run of four straight Grand Final defeats, especially to avenge their three successive losses to Leeds, in 2007, 2008 and 2009, as they bid for a first Super League triumph since their double-winning year of 2006.

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