EVEN the most optimistic of Warrington Wolves fans will have been feeling apprehensive about the prospect of a visit to St Helens in the Super League semi-finals.

After all, standing between them and a place at Old Trafford was a team that finished 15 points ahead of them in the final league table. A team that had already beaten them three times in this calendar year.

Wolves were written off, brushed aside as little more than cannon fodder for a Saints side that has been so dominant all year by the bookies, the pundits and even some of their own supporters.

What happened next, though, will live long in the memory of Wire fans everywhere.

From the opening exchanges, when intense defensive pressure forced two knock-ons from the hosts inside their own half, it was clear something special may have been on the cards.

That set the tone for The Wire’s best defensive performance of the season. It was as if St Helens were trying to pick their way through a brick wall.

It was a similar story on the other side of the coin in what was above all else an absorbing game – rugby league at its very finest.

After an intense but tight first half, many feared for Warrington when they mishandled the kick off to hand possession back to Saints, who made it count as Luke Douglas scored the game’s opening try.

Two weeks ago in the last meeting between the two, an early second-half score proved the catalyst for St Helens running away with the game. Not so this time.

This Wire team showed they had learned their lessons. They showed they are made of something more.

Jack Hughes’ try was no more than he deserved for another titanic performance, especially after being moved into the middle.

Even then, when Danny Richardson fluffed over his third drop-goal of the evening off the crossbar, one could not help but wonder if someone was shining down on the hosts.

Step forward, Tom Lineham.

Having already rounded off an impressive left-edge move with a regulation slide over in the corner, he went one better to send the Wolves fans behind the posts into a state of pure delirium.

Lest we forget, had the RFL’s Match Review Panel had their way, Lineham would not even have been playing in this semi-final. Thank heavens Wolves decided to press ahead with an appeal against his three-match ban.

Nobody could quite believe what had unfolded in front of their eyes, but The Wire had done it and ensured plenty of humble pie was eaten among the so-called “experts.”

They have defied the odds, proved the doubters wrong and are now off to the big dance.

Two major finals and a fourth-place finish. Not bad for a season of transition…


. Wire reach their fourth Super League Grand Final.

. Wolves the first team to win an away semi-final in current Super League format.

. Warrington’s first win over St Helens in 2018 at the fourth attempt.


Super League semi-final, Thursday, October 4, 2018

St Helens…13 Warrington Wolves…18

Saints: Ben Barba; Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Regan Grace; Jonny Lomax, Danny Richardson; Luke Thompson, Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees, Dom Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Jon Wilkin. Subs: James Roby, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Luke Douglas, Jack Ashworth.

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Josh Charnley, Toby King, Bryson Goodwin, Tom Lineham; Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Jack Hughes, Bodene Thompson, Ben Westwood. Subs: Joe Philbin, Ben Murdoch-Masila, George King, Dec Patton.

Scoring: Roberts penalty, 10mins, 0-2; Richardson penalty, 14mins, 2-2; Richardson drop goal, 37mins, 3-2; Douglas try, 42mins, Richardson goal, 9-2; Hughes try, 45mins, 9-6; Richardson penalty, 50mins, 11-6; Lineham try, 59mins, Roberts goal, 11-12; Richardson drop goal, 69mins, 12-12; Richardson drop goal, 70mins, 13-12; Lineham try, 75mins, Roberts goal, 13-18

Penalties: Saints 12 Wolves 6

Referee: Robert Hicks

Attendance: TBC

Top Man: Guardian reader vote to decide