St Helens turned on the style to secure an emphatic 36-8 win over Leeds that takes them to a record-extending 13th Grand Final and a step closer to a third successive Super League title.
The reigning champions ran in six tries to two to earn a trip to Old Trafford next Saturday. They will meet maiden Grand Finalists Catalans Dragons.
Mark Percival and winger Regan Grace scored two tries apiece. Kevin Naiqama was also among the scorers on his final home appearance as he prepares to return home to Australia.
Saints actually made the worst possible start. Full-back Lachlan Coote fumbled the first high ball inside the opening minute but they were good enough to keep their opponents out and the Hull KR-bound Scotland international very quickly more than made amends.
His cut-out pass enabled Grace to open the scoring with his 20th try of the season. After leaping into the air to prevent Leeds finding touch with a penalty, Coote extended his side’s lead to 8-0 with two penalty goals, and suddenly the sports betting sites were beginning to set up for a St Helens and Catalans Grand Final.
The second was awarded for a high tackle by Tom Briscoe on Coote as the Rhinos centre became the first of four players to be sent to the sin bin. Saints took advantage of the extra man as James Roby took a return pass from the impressive Alex Walmsley to score his first Super League try of the season.
Coote’s third goal made it 14-0 but Leeds grabbed a lifeline three minutes before half-time when full-back Richie Myler squeezed over for a try.
That came while Saints were down to 12 men with second-rower Sione Mata’utia shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Briscoe’s brother Luke, the Leeds right winger.
HT: St Helens 14-4 Leeds Rhinos
Leeds forward James Donaldson became the third player to be sin-binned for a high tackle four minutes into the second half. Saints once more made the most of it as centre Percival took a pass from Mata’utia to force his way over for the 100th try of his career.
Even the loss of Jack Welsby, who injured a shoulder in a tackle on Hurrell, failed to disrupt Saints’ flow. A fresh Walmsley re-entered the fray and the game was up for the visitors when Coote put Naiqama over for his side’s fourth try on 59 minutes.
Saints forward Morgan Knowles became the fourth recipient of a yellow card for a shoulder charge on Kruise Leeming, Leeds took advantage to score their second try through Luke Briscoe.
It was only a minor blemish for the well-drilled St Helens defence. Percival finished off a break by Lewis Dodd to score his second try and Grace quickly followed suit, with Coote taking his goal tally to six from eight attempts.