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Warrington Wolves turn attention towards first Grand Final

Wolves keeping emotions in check as they turn sights on first Grand Final



13:31 GMT, 30 September 2012

Warrington are through to their first Grand Final but the champagne is staying on ice for now.

The Challenge Cup winners came from behind to secure an impressive 36-18 semi-final victory over St Helens to set up a Wembley rematch with defending champions Leeds at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The celebrations at Langtree Park were muted, however, as the Wolves quickly turned their thoughts towards becoming the first team to achieve the double since St Helens won the Cup final and Grand Final in 2006 and pulling off their first league championship for 57 years.

Whoosh: Trent Waterhouse scores a try

Whoosh: Trent Waterhouse scores a try

'We're made up that we've got there but we've still a lot of hard work to do,' warned hooker Mickey Higham.

'Fair play to Saints, they had a real strong start and got us in an arm wrestle but we stuck in there and turned it around.

'We got back to something like (acceptable) with the ball and defensively and hopefully we can take that into next week.

'We won't be satisfied with just getting there. We've earned the right to get there now and we want to kick on and finish it off.

'It would be just reward for a long, consistent season.'

Tries from wings Tommy Makinson and Francis Meli and skipper Paul Wellens put Saints into a 14-4 lead and on course for a seventh successive Grand Final appearance, but Warrington crucially pulled a try back just before half-time through Simon Grix.

The Wolves then dominated the second half, with Australian second-rower Trent Waterhouse clinching victory with two tries in a decisive three-minute spell.

Gunning for silverware: Ryan Atkins celebrates at full time

Gunning for silverware: Ryan Atkins celebrates at full time

Waterhouse was an NRL Grand Final winner with Penrith Panthers in 2003 while Higham has to go back even further for his last showpiece victory, a nailbiting 19-18 success with St Helens over Bradford in 2002.

'It's my 10th anniversary,' he said. 'Personally it's been long overdue. I've been striving to get back there and I've finally done it.

'Hopefully I can have a repeat of the last one, but not as close as the last result. I'd take a one-point win but hopefully we can get the job done a bit before that.'

Warrington beat Leeds 35-18 in last month's Challenge Cup final – they were also 30-6 winners over the Rhinos at Wembley in 2010 – but the Yorkshiremen have a proud record at Old Trafford, where they are aiming for a fifth success in the last six years.

Leeds have once more defied all logic by reaching the final from fifth place and Higham admits he did not expect them to get past league leaders Wigan in Friday's first semi-final at the DW Stadium.

On the ball: Chris Riley dives into score a try

On the ball: Chris Riley dives into score a try

'Truthfully, probably not,' he said. 'I did fancy Wigan. It could have gone either way at the end but it went for Leeds.

'That's why they are a champion team, they've been there the last six or seven years.

'They had a defeat in the Challenge Cup so they have quite a few things to motivate them this week.

'It's going to be a tough one but, if we can stick to our strategies and our guns, hopefully we can get them again.'

Leeds will have half-back Danny McGuire back for the final after he sat out the Wigan tie through suspension while Warrington will also be at full strength.

England second-rower Ben Westwood, who is on the Man of Steel award shortlist, made his comeback from a knee injury sustained at Wembley and coach Tony Smith also has the option of recalling prop Garreth Carvell.

The former Leeds front-rower has recovered from a back injury but was surprisingly left out by Smith for the semi-final.

St Helens 18 Warrington 36: Match report

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



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.