Super League semi-final: St Helens 19-12 Salford Red Devils

Joe Batchelor scored two first-half tries and had another rejected
Saint Helena (13) 19
Attempts: Batchelor 2, Bennison Goals: McInson 3 Drop target: Lomax
Salford (6) 12
Attempts: Watkins, Brierley Goals: Sneyd 2

St Helens held off a fierce second-half effort from Salford to win their Super League semi-final and book a grand final against Leeds.

Joe Batchelor’s first-half double and a Jonny Lomax drop goal gave Kristian Woolf’s side a 13-6 lead, followed by a goal from Kallum Watkins.

Ryan Brierley pulled Salford back within a point in the second half with a breakaway.

Jon Bennison touched down late on to ensure the job was done for the Saints.

The win means the Saints will leave coach Woolf with a Grand Final to remember as they hunt for a fourth consecutive success.

Under the Queenslander, the Saints have become a defensive powerhouse to go with their scintillating attack, and they needed that determination and passion to crush a tough Salford.

Lomax had the ball on the ropes in his short kicking game, releasing Batchelor and Bennison for their scores, and played bravely on the line despite a brutal headbutt.

It looked like Salford might have a torrid afternoon against the storm thrown by Saints, and yet they trailed by only seven at half-time after Watkins charged in against the grain from a pass from Marc Sneyd.

The first time Saints were caught with a brand change, he produced priceless points to draw within a point, Tim Lafai released Joe Burgess to burn down the left and feed Brierley to slot in under the posts.

After all, with key playmaker Brodie Croft sidelined by concussion protocols, followed by the loss of influential hooker Andy Ackers during the game for the same reason, Salford had no hesitation in going with the graft.

Saint Helena: Bennison, Makinson, Percival, Hurrell, Welsby, Lomax, Roby, Matta’utia, Batchelor, Knowles, Sironen, Pasi, Lees.

Exchanges: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wingfield, Bell.

Sin-bin: Knowles (24), Makinson (75).

Salford: Brierley, Sio, Watkins, Lafai, Burgess, Sneyd, Atkin, Ackers, Wright, Taylor, Vuniyayawa, Ormondroyd, Cross.

Exchanges: Luckley, Bourouh, Gerrard, Dupree.

Judge: Chris Kendall (RFL)