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St Helens 18 Warrington 36: Match report

St Helens 18 Warrington 36: Wolves move one step closer to double after Waterhouse clinches win

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UPDATED:

21:18 GMT, 29 September 2012

Warrington are 80 minutes away from the elusive double after coming from 14-6 down to win their Super League play-off semi-final against St Helens at Langtree Park and secure a first Grand Final appearance.

Two tries in a three-minute spell midway through the second half from Australian forward Trent Waterhouse clinched victory for the Wolves, who will meet Leeds at Old Trafford next Saturday in a repeat of last month's Challenge Cup final which they won 35-18.

Warrington, who will become only the sixth club to contest the Grand Final, ran in four second-half tries to thwart Saints' bid for a seventh successive trip to Old Trafford and bring Mike Rush's reign as caretaker coach to a sorry end.

Job done: Trent Waterhouse scored two tries in three minutes to seal the win

Job done: Trent Waterhouse scored two tries in three minutes to seal the win

St Helens, the last team to do the double in 2006, dominated the first half and ought to have been further ahead than 14-12 at the break but they quickly ran out of steam when Warrington got their second wind in the second half.

The Wolves, who lost to Saints in the opening round of the play-offs, were boosted by the return of Man of Steel contender Ben Westwood for his first appearance since Wembley but it was his second row partner Waterhouse who stole the show.

The former Kangaroo international was a Grand Final winner in the NRL with Penrith Panthers back in 2003 and will fancy his chances of doing the double.

Yet Saints had looked the more dangerous side throughout the first half with right winger Tommy Makinson going close and left winger Francis Meli denied by a forward pass from Jon Wilkin and it was no surprise when they opening the scoring on 11 minutes.

Makinson had no right to score after taking Chris Flannery's pass with Chris Riley still to beat but he produced an acrobatic dive to get around his man and plant the ball over the line.

Thumbs up: Adrian Morley celebrates after the Wolves clinched the win

Thumbs up: Adrian Morley celebrates after the Wolves clinched the win

One more game: Wolves moved within 80 minutes away from winning the double

One more game: Wolves moved within 80 minutes away from winning the double

It was against the run of play that Warrington took the lead on 17 minutes, with Wilkin conceding possession with a knock-on 30 metres from his own line and Richie Myler combining with Brett Hodgson to get Riley over at the corner.

Hodgson's touchline conversion made it 6-4 but Saints remained unfazed and they looked to have seized control with two tries in a 10-minute spell.

Second rower Mark Flanagan took the ball to the Warrington line of defenders to suck in their defence and his long, looping pass gave Meli the space to cross at the corner.

The big Kiwi would have had a second try but for a last-ditch tackle from Hodgson but the Warrington full-back blotted his copybook shortly afterwards, spilling Wilkin's towering kick to present his opposite number Paul Wellens with the easiest of scores.

Makinson kicked his first conversion at the third attempt to make it 14-6 but Warrington scored what proved to be a crucial try two minutes before the interval when loose forward Simon Grix charged onto Lee Briers' pass.

Party time: Warrington Wolves ran out deserved winners in the end

Party time: Warrington Wolves ran out deserved winners in the end

The visitors were back in front eight minutes into the second half when right winger Joel Monaghan was first to Briers' high kick and, although he dropped the ball, it went backwards and he had the presence of mind to gather it back up and touch down.

Hodgson maintained his accuracy with his third goal to make it 18-14 and the Wolves produced some tremendous defence to keep their lead intact before hitting a purple patch in which they ran in three tries in seven minutes.

The impressive Waterhouse supported a break by centre Ryan Atkins to score his first before powering through a tiring defence for his second while Riley finished off a smart crossfield passing move to claim the visitors' sixth try.

Meli stopped the rot with a consolation try eight minutes from the end but Hodgson wrapped up the scoring with a penalty to take his goal tally to six from seven attempts.

St Helens 30 London Broncos 0: Wellens double inspires Saints

St Helens 30 London Broncos 0: Wellens double inspires Saints

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 31 August 2012

Saints skipper Paul Wellens struck at the double to move his side nearer a top four play-off spot.

Mark Flanagan also crossed twice for Saints who led only 6-0 until just before the break.

The Broncos were in confident mood
after three wins in a row – the last a 62-18 hammering of cup winners
Warrington a fortnight ago.

Going over: Paul Wellens scores the fourth try for St Helens

Going over: Paul Wellens scores the fourth try for St Helens

London were missing Chris Bailey, Chris Melling and Michael Witt, with Dan Sarginson still out after a month's absence with an ankle problem.

Saints welcomed back Jon Wilkin and Josh Jones to compensate for the loss of Michael Shenton and Chris Flannery.

Saints, who won 34-24 at the Stoop on the opening day of the season, took only three minutes to go ahead when Tony Puletua burst on to a James Roby pass to score near the posts and Jonny Lomax converted.

Saints took advantage of a high tackle by Tony Clubb on Roby in the build-up to Puletua's opener.

Clubb made amends by intercepting a Lomax pass to deny Saints a second try and Broncos hit back to apply pressure.

Referee Richard Silverwood awarded 10 penalties in a stop-start opening 17 minutes. Saints introduced Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook off the bench midway through the first half and he immediately made his presence felt against his old club with some tough tackling.

A storming burst by Sol Soliola tested the Broncos defence, which was equal to the task until another penalty allowed Lomax to carve out a try for Mark Flanagan after 35 minutes.

Lomax missed the straightforward conversion to leave Saints ahead 10-0 with Paul Wellens having a try disallowed just before the break for a forward pass.

Saints made a storming start to the second half with Luke Dorn, making his 200th appearance in the British game, forced to race back to pull off a try-saving tackle on Francis Meli.

But a blunder by Omari Caro, who failed to collect a Lomax kick, led to Flanagan's second try after 45 minutes to make it 14-0.

Then Wellens added Saints' fourth touchdown to score for his fifth successive match but Lomax missed his third conversion from four attempts.

Clubb was held up over the line for the Broncos before Wellens took Puletua's pass to grab his second try and make it 24-0 on the hour.

Dorn almost notched a Broncos try in front of the 13,262 crowd but was recalled for a forward pass from Chad Randall.

London held out until Anthony Laffranchi crashed over for the final try in the last minute

St Helens forward Chris Flannery set to retire

Australian forward Flannery targets Grand finale to his stint at St Helens

St Helens' Australian back-row forward Chris Flannery is set to hang up his boots at the end of the season.

The former Queensland Origin player,
who turns 32 in June, is out of contract at the end of the year and will
not seek an extension.

Chris Flannery, St Helens

Chris Flannery: retirement plans

'I think this will be my last year,' he said during a break in preparations for Friday's Stobart Super League clash with Catalan Dragons at Langtree Park.

'We're going to go back to Australia after this. We've been over here for four and a half, nearly five years now. We've got a couple of young kids so it's time to get back to Australia.

'Hopefully, I'll have a big year this year and finish it off in the right fashion.'

Flannery, who joined St Helens on a three-and-a-half-year deal in the summer of 2007, played in four consecutive losing Super League Grand Finals but missed his side's fifth successive defeat by Leeds last October because of injury.

The tough-tackling forward, who won the 2002 NRL Premiership with Sydney Roosters, is unlikely to seek a new club when he returns home.

'I think I'll hang the boots up,' he said. 'I'll go back and get some of that sunshine, to the house on the beach and do a bit of surfing. I'm looking forward to it.'