Leigh Leopards have booked their place in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley after beating Super League champions St Helens 12-10 in a thriller in Warrington.
The Leopards will face the winner of Sunday’s semi-final between Hull KR and Wigan in the final at Wembley on August 12.
Leigh welcomed back star hooker Edwin Ipape into their side after missing their win at Salford last week through illness. Former Samoa international Ricky Leutele was a late withdrawal through injury.
St Helens were boosted by the returns of wing duo Tommy Makinson and Tee Ritson, with versatile youngster Ben Davies coming in on the bench. Joey Lussick started at hooker in place of captain James Roby, who missed the game after suffering a failed head injury assessment last week.
It was a real war of attrition in the first half and both teams were going hell for leather in the opening stages.
Saints drew first blood in the 18th minute thanks to a trademark Joey Lussick scoot, with Makinson adding the extras.
It was an impressive first half from Australian hooker Lussick, who kicked a 40/20 from inside his own 30 midway through the first 40.
Saints were applying pressure to the Leigh line, but the Leopards produced some strong defensive efforts, including a sensational try saving tackle from Josh Charnley on Makinson.
Jack Welsby was shown a green card on the half hour mark after going down following a heavy collision.
England star Makinson had the chance to extend his side’s lead late on but his penalty goal attempt went wide of the mark, so Saints took a 6-0 lead at half-time.
St Helens take a 6-0 lead into the changing rooms
Leigh came out firing in the second half and levelled the score after Lachlan Lam sent Oliver Holmes through a gap to score.
The Leopards took the lead for the first time in the game in the 53rd minute as Zak Hardaker produced an incredible finish on the back of a neat grubber from Lam.
Saints were dealt a blow on the hour mark when Sione Mata’utia was sent to the sin bin for a late hit on Reynolds, with the latter adding a penalty goal as a result.
Charnley produced two remarkable try saving efforts in the final quarter to keep his side ahead.
It was a pulsating finish to the game, with Jonny Lomax going over for Saints with three minutes left on the clock. Makinson couldn’t add the conversion though and they were 12-10 behind.
It was a thrilling final couple of minutes to the game, but Leigh saw the game out to secure an emphatic victory, and more importantly, their spot in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Hurrell, Hopoate, Ritson; Lomax, Dodd; Walmsley, Lussick, Lees, Mata’utia, Bell, Knowles. Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paasi, Davies, Delaney. 18th man: Royle.
Tries: Lussick, Lomax Goals: Makinson 1
Leigh: O’Brien; Briscoe, Hardaker, Chamberlain, Charnley; Reynolds, Lam; Mulhern, Ipape, Amone, Hughes, Holmes, Asiata. Subs: Davis, Nakubuwai, Mellor, Wilde. 18th man: Seumanufagai.
Tries: Holmes, Hardaker Goals: Reynolds 2