Saturday 29th September 2012, 18:15 - Round:Play Offs
|Tom Makinson, Francis Meli 2, Paul Wellens,||T||Chris Riley 2, Simon Grix, Joel Monaghan, Trent Waterhouse 2,|
Brett Hodgson 6,
Attendance: 12,715 Official: B Thaler Venue: Langtree Park
Warrington Wolves are 80 minutes away from the elusive double after coming from 14-6 down to win their Stobart 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 Rhinos 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.
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.
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.
It was no surprise when they opened the scoring on 11 minutes; Makinson had no right to cross after taking Chris Flannery's pass with Chris Riley still to beat but produced an acrobatic dive to get around his man and plant the ball over the line.
It was against the run of play that Warrington took the lead on 17 minutes, 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 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 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, yet the Warrington full-back blotted his copybook shortly afterwards, spilling Wilkin's towering kick to present 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.
The visitors were back in front eight minutes into the second half when right winger Joel Monaghan was first to Briers' high kick. 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 a 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 a second, while Riley finished off a smart crossfield passing move to claim the visitors' sixth try.
Meli stopped the rot with a consolation effort eight minutes from the end but Hodgson wrapped up the scoring via a penalty to take his goal tally to six from seven attempts.