St Helens, Leeds reach Super League semis

Tommy Makinson played a starring role as St Helens moved through to the Stobart Super League semi-finals with a 28-6 victory at Warrington.

St Helens, Leeds reach Super League semis

View photo

Paul Wellens, St Helens (PA)

Winger Makinson touched down for two tries and added four goals and the Saints pack also played a key role in demolishing Challenge Cup winners Warrington.

Iosia Soliola, James Roby and Francis Meli also crossed for Saints with Brett Hodgson claiming the sole try for the Wolves and converting it himself.

The opening try came from an error and it arrived in the 22nd minute when St Helens prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook threw a forward pass and in the next passage Richie Myler sent Hodgson dummying and stepping his way over the line.

Saints levelled in the 33rd minute when Jonny Lomax and Paul Wellens created the space for Soliola to push through a hole and touch down.

Soliola smashed his way through four minutes before the interval, when following a Monaghan knock-on he scooped up the ball before holding off England centre Ryan Atkins in his race downfield, before slipping the ball for Makinson to do the rest.

St Helens countered magnificently in the 51st minute, with a short ball from Jon Wilkin setting Lomax free. The young scrum-half kept his head to outfox full-back Hodgson and send Makinson in for his second try.

Man mountain Tony Puletua slipped a super offload for energetic hooker Roby to touch down by the posts to make sure in the 64th minute.

And he was followed over the whitewash by Meli who touched down in the corner from a Wellens pass three minutes later.

Defending champions Leeds kept alive their hopes of another Grand Final appearance after bringing Wakefield's seven-match winning run to a halt with a 42-20 victory in the elimination play-off.

The Rhinos trailed three times before finally getting on top of their gallant opponents and finishing with a flourish with a Ben Jones-Bishop hat-trick to earn a trip to Catalan Dragons in next Friday's preliminary semi-final.

Former Leeds Grand Final winners Richard Mathers, Lee Smith and Ali Lauitiiti all scored tries as the Wildcats played their full part in a thoroughly entertaining match and threatened to spring a shock before finally running out of steam.

Tim Smith was clearly Wakefield's key player and it was his accurate cut-out pass that enabled winger Ben Cockayne to open the scoring for the visitors on 14 minutes. They scored again nine minutes from half-time when centre Lee Smith released Cockayne and took a return pass to touch down, with Paul Sykes kicking the goal.

Leeds were clearly rattled at that stage and it was only the class of Watkins that kept them in the game by half-time. He sliced between Sykes and Cockayne to get Rob Burrow over on 22 minutes and demonstrated brilliant footwork and evasive skills again 28 seconds from the interval to create a second try for the diminutive hooker.

Sinfield's second goal made it 12-10 but the Wildcats were back in front within two minutes of the re-start when replacement hooker Kyle Wood freed Frankie Mariano and he got Mathers over for his side's third try.

Sykes' second conversion put the visitors into a 16-12 lead but again the champions struck back, this time with their best rugby of the match.

Wakefield loose forward Danny Washbrook saved a certain try when he got back to halt Leeds left winger Ryan Hall after a 70-metre run but his defenders could not regroup quickly enough to prevent right winger Jones-Bishop collecting Sinfield's pinpoint kick to grab his first try. Sinfield's third goal edged his side back in front and, with their tails up, the champions piled the pressure on visibly tiring opponents.

It was no surprise when the Rhinos scored again, quicksilver Burrow opening up the Wakefield defence with his trademark jink to get McGuire over for a fourth try and Hardaker then went 80 metres to bring the 9,034 crowd to its feet with a glorious try after picking up a dropped pass by Wakefield prop Andy Raleigh close to his own line.

Sinfield's fifth goal made it 30-14 but Wakefield battled to the end, scoring again when Lauitiiti touched down Tim Smith's grubber kick. However, Leeds were in total control by then and Jones-Bishop touched down twice in three minutes to complete his hat-trick and Sinfield took his goal tally to seven from as many attempts.

View comments (4)