Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Saints fall at the final hurdle against Wolves
SAINTS fell at the final hurdle to miss out on Old Trafford for the first time since 2005 after the game went away from them just after the break.
They had looked in control in the first half and built up a 14-6 lead, which would have been even bigger had two conversions not been missed.
However, just before the half time hooter a fatal error let Warrington get a toe-hold in the game and that sparked a shift in momentum that was hard to arrest.
The first half was played at a ferocious pace and was marked by some blistering passages of football from both sides.
Saints started the stronger and looked to have taken the lead after nine minutes when Francis Meli touched down in the corner, but Jon Wilkin’s pass was adjudged forward.
After all their early pressure Saints needed to register something and that moment duly arrived on 13 minutes with a phenomenal piece of football and clinical finishing.
Chris Flannery, playing his last professional game of rugby league, fashioned the opportunity for Tommy Makinson to show his acrobatic skills and put the ball down one-handed in the corner.
He was unable to improve it from the touchline and a slip by Saints soon allowed the Wolves to get back in the game.
Jon Wilkin slipped and then dropped the ball clearing his line and from there the Wolves pounced.
Swift hands from Richie Myler and a delicate short ball from Brett Hodgson put Chris Riley in at the corner. Hodgson’s goal nudged the visitors ahead.
But back the Saints came with Sia Soliola coming off the bench to put in a few big rattling hits. Pressure finally told when a remarkable overhead offload from Mark Flanagan sent Meli in at the corner.
Saints were well on top at this stage and on 36 minutes a big chase from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook on Hodgson from Wilkin’s steepling bomb resulted in another touchdown from skipper Paul Wellens.
Makinson converted to give them an eight-point cushion that they looked likely to take into the break.
Unfortunately an attempt to push play just before the break saw Myler break away. Although he was chased down by Lance Hohaia, Wolves scented blood.
Big Paul Wood offloaded and a killer pass from Lee Briers saw Simon Grix fly over the line, with Hodgson cutting the deficit to a couple of points.
That was the start of the battle tipping away from Saints and they found it difficult to regain it once the Wolves got on top.
The try that put Wolves in front was a jammy one, with Briers targeting Meli’s wing with Joel Monaghan loosing the ball backwards, then re-gathering to touch down in virtually the same movement.
Hodgson slotted the goal and form there Briers began torturing Saints with some punishing kicks that kept them at arm’s length.
Saints were constantly bring the ball off their own line – being met by an increasingly vigourous Wolves defence.
A high tackle from Wilkin was immediately punished with Ryan Atkins storming through, before putting an inside pass to Trent Waterhouse for a crucial try on the hour mark.
Another Waterhouse try four minutes later more or less made sure and he was followed over the whitewash by Riley, after Atkins had stolen the ball from Lomax.
Saints never gave up and were rewarded with a second Meli touchdown to make it 18-34.
However, Wolves had the last word with Hodgson booting a long range penalty to book Wolves first Grand Final appearance.