St Helens have booked their place at Old Trafford in a fortnight’s time after a comfortable 40-10 win over bitter rivals Wigan Warriors at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
It was the league leaders that drew first blood as Lachlan Coote’s kick put it on a plate for Theo Fages to score. Coote then converted to make it a six point advantage after just five minutes.
Just when it seemed like Wigan were seeing more of the ball, Saints scored again as Kevin Naiqama intercepted from halfway and ran through to score. Coote converted once more to make it 12 points in the opening 12 minutes for the Saints.
It soon got even better for Saints as Wigan conceded a penalty right in front of the posts, and Coote took the two points to make it a 14 point advantage with just 16 minutes on the clock.
With their first real chance, Wigan managed to get a try as they moved the ball out wide and Liam Marshall showed his danger by getting over under the posts. Zak Hardaker converted to bring them back to within eight points.
It was a much more even game, but it Saints who struck the next blow as Luke Thompson found a gap in the Wigan defence and went over from short range. Coote converted once more as Saints reopened their 14 point advantage with ten minutes to go until half time.
There was even time for Saints to grab another before the break as Jonny Lomax showed great feet and determination to get over out wide. Coote converted once more for his 100th goal of the season, and to confirm a 20 point lead for the Saints going into half time.
The Saints were in complete control and they showed it by getting the first try of the second half as Zeb Taia got in out wide after an excellent delayed pass from Coote, who missed his conversion, his first of the night, but Saints had amassed 30 points.
Then just after the hour mark, Saints got another to really rub the salt in the wounds of Wigan as Mark Percival added his name to the scoresheet. Coote was again off target, but their lead went up to 28 points.
Saints had one more champagne moment left in them as they moved the ball brilliantly out wide as Percival stepped inside and did the rest for his second of the night. Coote was back on target to bring Saints up to 40 points.
However, the last word would go to the Warriors as Bevan French got in after a rare venture into Saints half. Hardaker missed the conversion, but Wigan had at least gotten into double figures.
That result ensured Saints earned safe passage to Old Trafford, having won their first playoff game since 2014. They will play the winners of next weeks game between the Warriors and Salford Red Devils.