Super League: St Helens 30-12 Catalan Dragons
|First Utility Super League semi-final|
|St Helens (12) 30|
|Tries: Turner, Swift, Manu, Masoe, Percival Goals: Percival 5|
|Catalan Dragons (6) 12|
|Tries: Escare, Oldfield Goals: Bosc 2|
St Helens reached their first Super League Grand Final in three years after overcoming a gutsy Catalan Dragons.
Adam Swift and Jordan Turner tries put Saints 12-6 up at the break, after Morgan Escare grabbed the first points for the French side at Langtree Park.
Tries from Willie Manu, Mose Masoe and Mark Percival made the game safe before Michael Oldfield pulled one back.
Wigan host Warrington on Friday for the right to meet Nathan Brown's Saints side at Old Trafford on 11 October.
Saints, who last won the Grand Final in 2006, ended a six-year wait for silverware last month by winning the League Leaders' Shield.
It is the second time the Dragons have failed to progress beyond the last four, having gone down to eventual title winners Leeds Rhinos in 2009.
|Saints in search of title number 13|
|League titles (Super League/Championship)||1932, 1953, 1959, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006.|
In a nervy opening 20 minutes, Sam Williams tested the home side's defence, while Swift failed to escape the attention of Oldfield on the break and Percival was off target as he tried to tee up the opening points with a seemingly straight-forward kick.
Successive penalties allowed Catalan Dragons to move deep into Saints territory and, while the French side's initial raid ended with a knock-on close to the line, some superb handling and a suspect forward pass saw Escare scamper over for the first score of the game.
Elliott Whitehead collected a cross-field kick from Williams before flicking a pass around his back to Thomas Bosc, who dished the ball to full-back Escare.
The hosts hit back soon after with Turner squeezing over, and Percival added the extras to level.
Swift showed great pace and poise out wide to put Saints ahead for the first time, linking up with Paul Wellens and running through an Escare tackle to dive over in the corner before Oldfield could clatter the utility back into touch. Percival put the hosts six points in front.
|A match too far for Les Dracs|
|After finishing seventh in the Super League table, the Catalan Dragons crossed the Channel for three play-off matches in 12 days, ending at Langtree Park.|
While Escare persevered with an injury, the French side's most prolific try-scorer this season was eventually forced off after the break.
Saints added to their lead on 49 minutes - Percival palming a contentious looking ball forward to Tommy Makinson, who turned a pass back inside for Manu to score.
Percival converted and added a penalty to make it 20-6 before the hour.
Masoe then showed incredible strength to hold off Louis Anderson, Julian Bousquet and Zeb Taia to crash over for Saints' fourth try.
Both sides were then caught unawares from scrums - Percival evaded Daryl Millard to add a try to his personal 14-point tally for the night, before Oldfield raced away for what amounted to a consolation effort 12 minutes from time.
St Helens assistant coach Keiron Cunningham:
"We are at the big dance and the boys deserve it. Against all the adversity with the players we've lost, I'm proud as punch for the boys.
"Defensively they were great. Catalan are a good side but we scrambled so well.
"We knew if we just stuck to the game plan we could eventually grind Catalan down.
"We started a little nervous but the atmosphere was great and the players are really wanting it."
Catalan Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous:
"The last two weeks, with the lack of days to recover, definitely cost us.
"We are very disappointed with the loss but I'm very proud of the boys for what they have managed to do for the last three weeks.
"It is very good for the future of the club. I'm sure we learned a lot."
St Helens: Wellens; Makinson, Percival, Jones, Swift; Hohaia, Flanagan; Masoe, Roby, Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Turner.
Replacements: Soliola, Manu, Walmsley, Richards.
Catalan Dragons: Escare; Oldfield, Pomeroy, Duport, Millard; Bosc, Williams; Elima, Henderson, Anderson, Taia, Whitehead, Mounis.
Replacements: Lima, Pelissier, Bousquet, Garcia.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (RFL)