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Challenge Cup semi-final: Wigan Warriors 20-18 St Helens – Holders beaten in thriller

Wigan (14) 20
Tries: Marshall 2, Cust, Farrell Goals: Smith 2
St Helens (0) 18
Tries: Hurrell, Lomax, Roby Goals: Makinson 3

Wigan withstood a stunning second-half fightback from St Helens to beat the holders and reach their first Challenge Cup final for five years.

Wigan dominated the first half and led 14-0 at the break with tries from Liam Marshall, Cade Cust and Liam Farrell.

Saints were a different side after the break and hit back to lead with three tries in 10 minutes from Konrad Hurrell, Jonny Lomax and James Roby.

But against the run of play Marshall ran in his second try to win it.

Wigan, beaten by Hull FC in their last final appearance in 2017, will now face the winners of the second semi-final between Huddersfield and Hull KR at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 28 May.

Super League leaders Saints had eased to a 22-4 win when the sides had met on Good Friday but Wigan made an electric start to ensure this would be a very different encounter in a raucous atmosphere at Elland Road.

Josh Simm dropped a high ball to gift Wigan possession and the Cherry and Whites worked the ball wide for Marshall to produce a stunning diving finish in the corner inside the opening two minutes.

Only a brilliant try-saving chase and tackle from Jack Welsby denied Bevan French a second after the Wigan winger threatened to go the length of the field after seizing on Welsby coughing up possession near the Warriors line.

However, it came at a cost as Joe Batchelor was sent to the sin-bin for delaying the play-the-ball, and within a minute Wigan had made the most of their man advantage as Cust forced his way over.

Farrell extended the Warriors’ lead further before the break as he cut inside to wrong-foot the Saints defence and race through a gap to go in under the posts.

But Saints hit back with three tries in the space of 10 minutes early in the second half to turn the contest on its head.

Hurrell held off four Wigan defenders to power his way over, before Lomax, who had been a major doubt in the lead-up to the game because of a bicep injury sustained against Salford last weekend, brilliantly orchestrated his own score, putting up a high kick which Tommy Makinson tapped back into his path to go over.

Saints were not done there as Roby then burrowed over from close range to put the holders in front for the first time.

But Wigan dug deep and Marshall pounced on a Saints attack breaking down to race in from inside his own half to seal a memorable derby victory in a classic semi-final.

Wigan: Field; French, Thornley, Bibby, Marshall; Cust, Singleton; O’Neil, Byrne, Farrell, Bateman, Smithies, Smith.

Interchanges: Mago, Ellis, Havard, Shorrocks.

St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Hurrell, Percival, Simm; Davies, Lomax; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Mata’utia, Batchelor, Knowles.

Interchanges: Lussick, Paasi, Sironen, McCarthy-Scarsbrook.

Sin-bin: Batchelor (17)

Referee: J. Child.

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