COOL handed Luke Walsh slotted over a drop goal in the final minute to seal a dramatic 17-16 win over Huddersfield Giants.
The scrum half landed a one-pointer with precision to put Saints in the next round after Danny Brough’s effort was adjudged to have gone wide seconds earlier.
In a real titanic tussle Nathan Brown’s side saved probably their worst performance of the season for their biggest game.
They surrendered an 8-0 lead to go in 10-8 down at half time.
Tries from Adam Swift and Tommy Makinson gave them the advantage but the Giants forced their way back into it.
Shaun Lunt’s try may have been fortuitous but Joe Wardle’s wasn’t and it gave Huddersfield a lead they probably didn’t expect.
The hooker added his second in the second half before Brett Ferres was sent off for a shocking spear tackle on Jonny Lomax.
A man up, Makinson got over in the corner immediately and then Walsh kicked a penalty.
In the final few minutes, Saints charged down three drop goal attempts before Brough’s went wide – and Walsh did the rest.
It left at least half of the John Smith’s crowd celebrating the win; and the other showing their dismay with the officials.
Brown admitted Saints’ performance was probably disrupted by the number of players returning from injury.
Luke Walsh, Kyle Amor, Jordan Turner, Alex Walmsley and Willie Manu all came into the line-up for the crucial tie.
Joe Greenwood and Anthony Walker rewarded for their performances in the win over Leeds with spots on the bench.
Huddersfield on the other hand fielded virtually a full strength side – bringing Joe Wardle back in at centre.
There were signs of nerves from the kick off as Giants put it out on the full and then Alex Walmsley knocked on with the try line only inches away.
On eight minutes Saints had another crack at Huddersfield’s line – thanks to Luke Walsh’s 40:20.
And it paid off, Walsh and Hohaia combining for Adam Swift to put down in the corner.
Saints extended the lead after 15 minutes. Walsh was again involved, getting the ball wide to Makinson who kicked inside.
It went through hands, James Roby picked it up, drew the defence and Makinson was in.
Two minutes later Danny Brough kicked a great 40:20 and the video referee had to rule on a ‘burrow over’ try.
It was chalked off for a knock on though.
Kyle Amor left the pitch in the 20th minute with a leg injury and then the Giants forced a drop out.
But they knocked on as Saints right hand side piled on the pressure.
On 26 minutes Huddersfield got back into the match.
Saints were caught napping at dummy half after a break on the right hand side and Shaun Lunt went over.
It wasn’t clear on the screen if he had scored, but the video referee gave him benefit of the doubt.
Hohaia’s kicking game forced a repeat set, which came to nothing, and then the Giants continued their domination of the second quarter.
Joe Wardle collected a kick to the corner and then Danny Brough kicked them in front.
To be fair they’d had chances before that and on the balance deserved to go in 10-8 to the good.
Saints needed a strong start to the second half so therefore could have done without losing the ball on their second set and giving a penalty away in front of the sticks.
The Giants opted to run it but Saints held out.
Luke Walsh’s high ball almost saw Manu put his side back in front on 52 minutes – but it was disallowed for offside.
Five minutes later Huddersfield turned the screw.
A penalty gave them field position then a break in the centre of the field was taken to the house by Lunt for his second.
Brough taking the advantage to eight points.
Saints looked devoid of ideas in attack but they got back into it when Makinson nabbed his second of the game in the corner.
Yet before that vital score Brett Ferres was sent off for a shocking spear tackle on Jonny Lomax.
Jordan Turner forced a drop out with eight minutes to go and then Walsh kicked a penalty to level it up.
From the restart the Giants won a drop out and pounded Saints line.
But the defence was too strong – charging down three Brough drop goal attempts before he got one away clean.
It went high, but it was ruled wide much to the dismay of the Huddersfield fans and players.
Lady luck was smiling on Saints and seconds later Walsh landed a peach to seal the win.
Tries: Lunt (2), Wardle
Goals: Brough (2 from 3)
Tries: Swift, Makinson (2)
Goals: Walsh (2 from 4)
REF: Phil Bentham
1. Scott Grix; 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 5. Aaron Murphy, 4. Joe Wardle, 19. Jodie Broughton; 6. Danny Brough, 7. Luke Robinson; 8. Eorl Crabtree, 9. Shaun Lunt, 10. Craig Kopczak, 11. Brett Ferres, 12. Jason Chan, 14. Michael Lawrence.
Subs: 13. Chris Bailey, 16. David Faiumu, 18. Kyle Wood, 20. Antonio Kaufusi.
1. Jonny Lomax; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift; 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Luke Walsh; 16. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 18. Alex Walmsley, 13. Willie Manu, 15. Mark Flanagan, 11. Sia Soliola.
Subs: 8. Mose Masoe, 17. Paul Wellens, 23. Joe Greenwood, 25. Anthony Walker.