Super 8s: Salford Red Devils 4-30 St Helens
|Salford (4) 4|
|St Helens (12) 30|
|Tries: Percival, Walmsley 2, Taia, Barba Goals: Percival 5|
St Helens all but sealed a place in the play-offs with victory at 12-man Salford in their final Super 8s match.
Niall Evalds put Salford ahead before tries from Mark Percival in his 100th Saints game and Alex Walmsley gave the visitors a 12-4 half-time lead.
Ryan Lannon was sent off for the Red Devils for striking Theo Fages in a bad-tempered end to the first half.
Salford defended well after the break, but scores from Zeb Taia, Walmsley and Ben Barba made sure of Saints' win.
Only a victory for 2016 champions Wigan by 90 points or more at Wakefield on Saturday, coupled with a Hull win or draw at leaders Castleford, can deny Justin Holbrook's Saints a spot in the semi-finals.
If Hull lose at Castleford on Friday, Saints will travel to Leeds Rhinos in the last four. A Hull win or draw means St Helens visit Cas.
Saints looked full of nerves in the opening stages, but after Percival finished out wide and Walmsley bundled over, the game changed with Lannon's red card.
The 21-year-old threw a forearm at the head of Fages after the Frenchman kicked the ball away.
Lannon's punishment came moments after Walmsley was placed on report, having caught Jordan Walne in the head with his forearm while carrying the ball, but he avoided a card.
It took until the 63rd minute for St Helens to add to their two tries when New Zealander Taia powered through a tiring home defence and Walmsley dotted down his second. Barba then went over with the last play.
Saints have reached the Super League play-offs every year since they were introduced in 1998, including five Grand Final victories, the last of which came in 2014.
Salford's season petered out in the Super 8s as they lost six of their seven matches with last week's 44-2 defeat at Leeds Rhinos ending their play-off hopes.
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook: "I always had belief in them and now we're there. I'm very proud of the team - they're the ones that have worked really hard.
"It was a tough game, spiteful at times and a bit emotional. It was important we settled down in the second half and we finished it off well so I'm really pleased.
"I'll now watch with interest. Castleford and Leeds have two very different styles and whoever it is they're going to be hard to beat, but I'm confident in my team."
Salford coach Ian Watson: "We had a really good dig. In the opening exchanges we were outstanding and looked a really good team.
"We didn't panic when we went down to 12 men and the way they backed each other up typifies the spirit we've got.
"For two-thirds of the season we were outstanding. The last third was disappointing but we have learned lot from this period which will hopefully make us better."
Salford: Evalds, Bibby, Welham, Sa'u, Vatuvei, Lui, O'Brien, Murray, Tomkins, Hauraki, Murdoch-Masila, Jones, McCarthy.
Replacements: Kopczak, Brinning, Lannon, Walne.
St Helens: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Fages, Richardson, Thompson, Roby, Douglas, Knowles, Taia, Wilkin.
Replacements: Smith, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Walmsley, Peyroux.
Referee: James Child.