IN what he described as “a tough old game of rugby league,” Steve Price was full of praise for Warrington Wolves’ defence as they progressed to the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

The Wire edged out St Helens in a repeat of last year’s final to ensure their defence of the trophy cleared its first hurdle.

A purple patch of three tries in the 10 minutes before half time turned the game in their favour, with Anthony Gelling, Josh Charnley and Matty Ashton crossing after Saints had taken an 8-0 lead.

The Super League leaders controlled field position for most of the second half, but Price was delighted with his side’s ability to keep turning them back.

Warrington Guardian:

Anthony Gelling celebrates the victory. Picture by

“It was a tough old game of rugby league,” he said.

“I thought we created a few opportunities in that first half – the disallowed try in the left corner and the Blake Austin break to Matty Ashton that we couldn’t quite convert into points.

“I thought we were really gritty defensively. St Helens are a quality team as we know but I’m really pleased with the confidence and belief we’ve been growing over the past few weeks.

“They were coming hard at us but it was really pleasing to hold our nerve.

“We were calm and patient and kept our feet moving and kept turning up for each other.

“There was a really strong wind in their favour in the second half and they dominated field position but defensively, we were really solid throughout.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence from seeing what the young blokes have done over the past few weeks.

“We’ve had seven blokes missing in that time and six came back in today.

“You could tell they were a little underdone in terms of match fitness, especially in the first 20 minutes.

“I anticipated that but we were good enough to overcome it.

“We’ve been behind a few times of late but we’ve been mentally strong enough to turn it around.”

Jake Mamo had a try ruled out for a forward pass before Gelling got Wolves on the board, with Charnley and Ashton scoring quickly afterwards.

A superb Blake Austin tackle denied Regan Grace a try in the corner shortly after half time – a play Price says was big in changing the game and reminiscent of a similar tackle by Bryson Goodwin on Tommy Makinson in last year’s final.

Warrington Guardian:

Blake Austin's incredible tackle denies Regan Grace a try. Picture by

“I’m sure Blake will tell you he worked on that in training but I’m not sure,” Price said.

“That’s the sort of effort the boys are putting in in training.

“There’s little attitudinal efforts going in and that was certainly a big game-changing moment.

“It was Anthony Gelling’s best game by far.

“Over on that right edge he was really sound defensively around Zeb Taia and Jonny Lomax and his carries out of back field were awesome.”

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Either side of tries for Grace and Kevin Naiqama, Warrington did get a slice of luck when a short ball by Jack Hughes bounced off Gelling’s head and kindly for Charnley to run in at the corner.

There was confusion abound but after a consultation with video referee Liam Moore, the try was awarded.

“I thought that was a fair try,” Price said.

“That’s the rules and I have no issue with it.

“My issue was the try they scored in the left corner.

“I thought it was a reasonable tackle from Chris Hill but they got the six again and scored off the back of that.

“It was two quality teams going hard at it but we were good enough in the end.”

Price also confirmed that no new injuries had been picked up and that half-back Gareth Widdop would come back into the team for Friday’s Super League clash with Catalans Dragons.