Heartbreak For Saints In Semi Final

Saints were denied a Grand Final appearance in the cruelest of ways as they went down 23-22 at Castleford.

Tied 22-apiece at the end of the 80, a Luke Gale drop goal in Golden Point Extra Time sent the Tigers to the Final.

It was tense and dramatic end to a game that featured a classic comeback from the Saints.

Down 20-10, they led 22-20 with seconds remaining thanks to tries from Tommy Makinson, Mark Percival and Ryan Morgan.

Ben Barba, who was superb throughout, produced an attacking masterclass to get Saints back into it – and on the verge of the Final.

But an unnecessary penalty with literally seconds to spare set the platform for Gale to kick Cas through.

Before then, Saints were good value for their 10-8 half time lead.

Cas had the perfect start when Zeb Taia knocked on from the kick off.

Zak Hardaker scored from the resultant set and then Luke Gale slotted a conversion and a penalty for an 8-0 lead.

Saints hit back through the pace of Regan Grace.

After winning a penalty in midfield they swept the ball wide and the winger flew in untouched.

Barba providing the highlight reel pass for the try.

Saints had further forays into the Cas half – only for handling to let them down – and after the home side had forced a drop out, Greg Minikin had one chalked off for a knock on after a kick to the corner on the last.

And on the half hour mark, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was unlucky not to get on the end of a Matty Smith chip – something the video referee took a while to confirm.

But when Saints next came to Cas’ line they didn’t disappoint.

Roby was off like a shot at dummy half and he caught Morgan Knowles steaming into a gap for a superb try.

Percival giving Saints a two-point lead which they carried into the break.

An early penalty in the second half had Cas right on Saints’ line for two sets.

But a stray pass five minutes in ended up in touch to give Holbrook’s men the perfect attacking chance.

Luke Douglas was held up before Percival went within inches.

Mike McMeeken then fashioned half a chance for Castleford after 52 minutes but five later Gale latched onto Greg Eden’s break to put the hosts ahead.

Then came two moments that swung the same back to the home side.

Firstly, Adam Milner stopped a certain Saints try after a stunning Barba break.

On the very next set, Paul McShane hit a 40:20 to get Cas on the front foot and then provided a short pass for Milner to plunge over.

Saints looked rocked but they were about to do what looked impossible midway through the game, and the season, and put themselves as close as possible to the Final.

They scored twice in three minutes – and it was down mainly to the skill of Ben Barba.

His pinpoint pass firstly put Makinson over in the far corner before he fed Mark Percival on the other side to make it game on.

And with less then three minutes remaining Saints gave it air on the last, Roby made a break and somehow found an offload for Ryan Morgan to stroll over.

It was pandemonium in the away end … but sport has a nasty habit of biting back.

Saints were penalised for obstruction with less than 30 seconds remaining on an innocuous kick through and Gale did the business.

Then, after an attempt at a drop goal from the scrum half and Matty Smith, the former nailed a pearler through the uprights.

A heartbreaking end for Holbrook’s men.

Match Summary:

Tries: Hardaker, Gale, Milner
Goals: Gale (5 from 5)
Drop: Gale

Tries: Grace, Knowles, Makinson, Percival, Morgan
Goals: Percival (1 from 5)

Penalties Awarded:
Tigers: 4
Saints: 8

HT: 8-10
FT: 23-22

REF: J Child

ATT: 11,235


1. Zak Hardaker; 2. Greg Minikin, 3. Jake Webster, 4. Michael Shenton, 5. Greg Eden; 16. Ben Roberts, 7. Luke Gale; 14. Nathan Massey, 9. Paul McShane, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 34. Alex Foster, 12. Mike McMeeken, 13. Adam Milner.
Subs: 10. Grant Millington, 17. Junior Moors, 18. Matt Cook, 19. Gadwin Springer.

37. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 28. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 7. Matty Smith; 14. Luke Douglas, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 36. Zeb Taia, 20. Morgan Knowles, 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 8. Alex Walmsley, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 18. Dominique Peyroux.

Semi Final Highlights

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