Official Match Report
Saturday 3rd October 2009 - KO.1730
St Helens (10) 14
Wigan (6) 10
Venue: GPW Recruitment Stadium
St Helens squad
Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Eastmond, Meli, Pryce, Long, Graham, Cunningham, Puletua, Flannery, Wilkin, Gilmour.
Replacements: Roby, Hargreaves, Clough, Fa'asavalu.
Phelps, Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards, S. Tomkins, Leuluai, Coley, Riddell, Prescott, J. Tomkins, Hansen, O'Loughlin.
Replacements: Fielden, Paleaaesina, McIlorum, Flanagan.
St Helens scorers
F Meli 2, S Long 1,
K Eastmond 1,
Drop Goals Scorers:
G Carmont 1, P Richards 1,
P Richards 1,
Drop Goals Scorers:
Sean Long had the last laugh on his home-town team after helping St Helens reach a record seventh engage Super League Grand Final at Wigan Warriors’ expense, with a 14-10 win at Knowsley Road.
The veteran scrum-half made his mark on his final appearance at home for Saints, who overcame their arch rivals in a dramatic second semi-final to earn the right to meet defending champions Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford next Saturday in a repeat of the 2007 and 2008 finals.
Long, who is joining Hull FC after next week’s final appearance in Saints colours, scored a crucial try on the stroke of half-time to give his side a 10-6 interval lead and then sent winger Francis Meli over for the second of his two tries to make it 14-6 early in the second half.
Wigan battled bravely in a bid to end their six-year wait for a win at Knowsley Road and they finished the stronger side but defeat is expected to signal the end of Brian Noble’s reign as head coach.
Saints made a dream start when exciting youngster Kyle Eastmond, the man tipped to fill Long’s number seven jersey, shrugged off the attempted tackle of Sam Tomkins, one of his rivals for the engage Super League young player of the year award, to get Meli over for the game’s first try in only the second minute.
All eyes were on Long, though, and he demonstrated his unheralded defensive prowess to deny Wigan winger Pat Richards after he was released by full-back Cameron Phelps.
That try was disallowed by video referee Ian Smith, who ruled in favour of the visitors on 23 minutes when centre George Carmont romped over after the ball had eluded both Richards and St Helens winger Ade Gardner from Tomkins’ high kick.
Richards added the simple goal to edge his side into a 6-4 lead but Wigan looked fragile on their right-hand edge and Meli thought he had scored a second try, only to be denied by slow-motion replays which showed a hand in touch.
The pressure eventually paid off when Long squeezed his way to the line two minutes before the break for Saints’ second try and Eastmond kicked a first goal.
There was a noticeable increase in the game’s intensity after the break with both sides demonstrating a greater sense of urgency.
Saints were forced to scramble when Wigan half-back Thomas Leuluai freed Richards but their defence held firm and they extended their lead on 49 minutes.
Substitute Paul Clough was held up over the line but there was no stopping Meli when Long’s pass found the strong-running Samoan in space on the wing.
Wigan, who had prop Andy Coley placed on report for a high tackle on Lee Gilmour, got their second wind in the final quarter, with Leuluai and Tomkins forcing Saints to dig deep in defence.
The defence held firm until 10 minutes from the end when second rower Joel Tomkins broke clear from his own half and Carmont was in suppport to get Richards racing for the corner.
With defenders closing in, Richards opted to kick to the corner and won the race to get the touch.
However, Richards could not add the goal and Saints held their nerve in an exciting finish to hold onto their lead.
|4||Hull K R||27||17||1||9||650||516||134|
Sat 3rd October
|St Helens 14
Fri 2nd October
Catalans Dragons 20
Sat 26th September
|Hull K R 16
Fri 25th September
Catalans Dragons 16
Sun 20th September
Sat 19th September
|St Helens 15
Catalans Dragons 25