After Leeds Rhinos booked their Betfred Super League Grand Final place on Friday evening, the second semi-final takes place on Saturday afternoon between defending champions St Helens and Salford Red Devils (Match result – St Helens 1/3, Tie 20/1, Salford 13/5).

The Rhinos are through to their first final since 2017 after a hard-fought 20-8 win over Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium in which they withstood heavy first-half pressure before eventually prevailing after the break.

Liam Marshall’s early try gave the home side an ideal start, but tries from Jarrod O’Connor and James Bentley in the second half – before Wigan had John Bateman sent off – turned the semi-final Leeds’ way.

Bentley went over again to seal the win before Sam Powell registered for the Warriors, but it was too late and the Rhinos progressed despite Wigan finishing second in the regular-season table, nine points ahead of fifth-placed Leeds.

Rhinos coach Rohan Smith said his side’s defensive resilience and the belief in the squad were key to the impressive victory.

He said: “I’m really proud. The connectedness of the group on the field in the last two or three months is probably what held us together out there during those tough moments when we had to defend our line a lot.

“Our goal-line defence has been very good for a good period of time now, there is a lot of trust and belief. Everyone is doing their job and we found a way to keep the ball off the line.

“There’s a belief in the group that we would fight our way through it and we did. We defended our line a lot and to take the penalty meant everyone felt pretty good going in at 4-2 at half-time.”

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In the final, the Rhinos (11/8 – Grand Final winners) will play either reigning champions Saints, who are aiming to become the first side to win four successive Super League Grand Finals, or Salford, with the pair squaring off at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Saturday at 13:00.

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf admits his side, who are 5/4 to win by 13+ points, are raring to go after a week off after they finished top of the regular table to advance straight to this stage.

They take on a Salford outfit who finished sixth in the table and who were beaten on their last trip to St Helens in April, although the Red Devils did win the second fixture between the two sides 44-12 at home in July.

“We’ve played over 30 games this year, we’re as battle-hardened as we can be,” Woolf told BBC Radio Merseyside.

“A week off couldn’t have been better because if we’d had to play last week we’d have had a lot of players out. The break has been great for us and we’re in a good position and ready to go.”

The Betfred Super League Grand Final is scheduled for Old Trafford, Manchester on September 24th.

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