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Super League semi-finals review

Wigan Warriors 32-8 Huddersfield Giants

Wigan Warriors overcame Huddersfield Giants 32-8 at the DW Stadium to reach Super League’s Grand Final for the third successive year.

The Warriors were at their clinical best running in five tries against a Huddersfield outfit who put in yet another stuttering performance on a semi-final stage.

Much of the build-up surrounded Ben Flower, whose sending off for punching Lance Hohaia in last season’s 14-6 Grand Final defeat arguably cost his side the game. However the prop, who has enjoyed a strong season, got the first try of the game when he raced through a hole in the Giants defence in the fourth minute as he continued his road to redemption.

The home side were dominating the ruck speed and Huddersfield struggled to cope with Wigan’s physicality and it was only for uncharacteristic errors from Liam Farrell and Sean O’Loughlin that the game stayed at 6-0.

Matty Bowen’s penalty made it 8-0 and that lead was extended when the impressive John Bateman scored in the corner after Dom Manfredi had caught and offloaded well to set up for former Bradford Bulls man.

Huddersfield’s best chance of the opening half came when Super League’s top try scorer rounded Joe Burgess but was brought down just short of the whitewash by Bowen.

With seconds remaining in the half the visitors were awarded a penalty which Danny Brough opted to kick to reduce the deficit to ten points going into the dressing rooms.

McGillvary was again denied at the start of the second-half and they were made to rue their missed opportunities when the Warriors scored two quick-fire tries. First Manfredi got on the scoresheet when he twisted out of two tackles to score before the home side were awarded a penalty try. Bateman, who was a constant thorn in the Huddersfield side, was tripped in the in-goal by Scott Grix as he attempted to ground the ball. After much deliberation the video referee awarded a penalty try deeming Grix’s trip sufficient to have put off Bateman grounding the ball.

Bowen added the extras and a further penalty to make it 26-2 as Wigan closed in on a Grand Final place. Brett Ferres scored a consolation try in the 68th minute before Tony Clubb made sure Wigan had the final say scoring late on.

For Wigan it crowned a superb home record in which they are unbeaten at home in Super League whilst the Giants lose a 12th play-off tie stretching back to 2007.

Leeds Rhinos 20-13 St Helens

Leeds Rhinos remain on course for the treble after booking their place in the Super League Grand Final after a thrilling 20-13 win over reigning champions St Helens.

The victory now affords Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai one final match in the Leeds shirt on the biggest of stages before heading their separate ways in what will be the end of an era at the club.

Saints got over their early game nerves, which saw Jordan Turn drop the ball from kick-off, to record the first try of the game when James Roby rounded off a fine individual run evading the advances of the Leeds’ defence.

Going behind spurred on the home side and they should have levelled the game but Tom Briscoe dropped the ball in Adam Swift’s last ditch tackle.

Luke Walsh kicked a 16th minute penalty to make it 8-0 to St Helens after Danny McGuire was adjudged to have been offside.

Leeds finally got on the scoresheet when two of their Dream Team contingent combined midway through the first-half seeing Zak Hardaker slide over for a try – Sinfield added the extras and shortly after levelled the game with a penalty.

Walsh kicked a drop-goal as the half dwindled to an end with his side going in at the interval 9-8 before they survived a Leeds onslaught at the start of the second-half.

Adam Quinlan did superb to deny Ryan Hall before an injured Tommy Makinson halted the same player before Carl Ablett went close but his try was disallowed.

Mark Percival thought he’d got the crucial score when he crossed after Ryan Hall has lost possession in an attempt to clear his lines, but Walshs’ inability to convert gave Leeds hope of a comeback.

On the back of a Sinfield 40-20, Hall made amends for his earlier error when he took in Joel Moon’s pass to score. Sinfield then nailed the conversion to put his side ahead and their place in the Grand Final was sealed when Kallum Watkins scored their third try.

Published on October 5 2015 for Rugby AM.

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