|St Helens (13) 19|
|Tries: Batchelor 2, Bennison Goals: Makinson 3 Drop-goal: Lomax|
|Salford (6) 12|
|Tries: Watkins, Brierley Goals: Sneyd 2|
St Helens withstood a spirited second-half effort from Salford to win their Super League semi-final and book a Grand Final date against Leeds.
Joe Batchelor’s first-half converted double and a Jonny Lomax drop goal gave Kristian Woolf’s side a 13-6 lead, with Kallum Watkins’ score in reply.
Ryan Brierley brought Salford back within a point in the second half with his breakaway score.
Jon Bennison touched down late on to ensure the job was done for Saints.
This victory means the Saints can still send off departing coach Woolf with a Grand Final to remember, as they hunt a fourth straight showpiece success in a row.
Under the Queenslander, Saints have become a defensive powerhouse to go with their sparkling attack, and needed all that determination and grit to grind down a dogged Salford.
Lomax had the ball on a string throughout with his short-kicking game, releasing Batchelor and Bennison for their scores, and played bravely at the line despite a savage gash on his head.
It looked like Salford could be in for a rough afternoon early on as they rode the storm being thrown at them by Saints, and yet only trailed by seven at the break after Watkins charged back against the grain off a Marc Sneyd pass.
The first time they caught Saints out with a trademark shift it produced priceless points to draw them within a point, Tim Lafai releasing Joe Burgess to scorch down the left and feed Brierley to go under the posts.
Ultimately, the omission of key playmaker Brodie Croft through concussion protocols, and the subsequent loss of influential hooker Andy Ackers for the same reason during the game, left Salford without the craft to go with their undoubted graft.
St Helens: Bennison, Makinson, Percival, Hurrell, Welsby, Lomax, Roby, Mata’utia, Batchelor, Knowles, Sironen, Paasi, Lees.
Interchanges: 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.
Interchanges: Luckley, Bourouh, Gerrard, Dupree.
Referee: Chris Kendall (RFL)