Warrington’s 18-10 win over Saints to send them to the Grand Final was mired in video ref controversy.
Saints were on course for an eighth successive win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium after scoring eight points in two minutes before the interval to go in 10-8 in front but the Wolves dominated the second half to reach their third Grand Final.
A late try from Dominique Peyroux was ruled out by the video ref in controversial circumstances.
St Helens head coach Keiron Cunningham said: “I’m deeply disappointed, I thought we were in the game for large periods.
“There were some real game-changing calls that went against us at key moments.
“I don’t really want to detract from Warrington’s performance because they played really solid.”
The League leaders will now meet the winners of Friday’s second semi-final between Wigan and Hull at Old Trafford on October 8.
Hooker Daryl Clark, full-back Stefan Ratchford and stand-off Kurt Gidley were the architects of Warrington’s superb victory but St Helens full-back Jonny Lomax hardly deserved to be on the losing side.
The two teams enjoyed a tense opening which was notable for uncharacteristic errors from Saints hooker James Roby and Ratchford, normally two of the most reliable performers, a sign perhaps of the big prize at stake.
Scrum-half Dec Patton opened the scoring midway through the first half with a penalty which Luke Walsh cancelled out five minutes later while the returning Gidley scored the first try, crashing over following slick passing by Clark and Patton.
Patton’s second goal made it 8-2 which would have been a fair reflection of the first-half play but Saints struck a couple of blows in the last two minutes of the half.
Canberra-bound stand-off Jordan Turner, playing what proved to be his final game for the club, came up with the play of the match, drawing two defenders on an arcing run near halfway before releasing winger Adam Swift and Lomax was on his inside to finish off a glorious move.
Walsh kicked the conversion to level the scores and nudged his side in front on the stroke of half-time with a 40-metre penalty after Wolves substitute George King was pulled up for interference in the ruck.
The home side were clearly stung by Saints’ fightback and upped their game at the start of the second half.
Centre Rhys Evans was denied by a flying tackle from Lomax while the ever-threatening Clark’s charge for the line was abruptly halted by Turner’s last-ditch challenge.
The pressure told, however, when Ratchford forced his way over from dummy half for Warrington’s second try and Patton kicked his third goal to make it 14-10.
At that stage Saints appeared to sense the game was drifting away from them and a series of poor decisions enabled Warrington to keep the momentum going.
A cut-out pass from Ratchford gave winger Tom Lineham just enough space to go past Swift for his side’s third try on 63 minutes, which was awarded despite the suspicion of a knock-on and proved to be the final scoring act.
Handling errors in the wet conditions from Patton and Lineham gave the visitors an opportunity to put Warrington’s defence under intense pressure but Tony Smith’s side proved up to the task, with Saints centre Peyroux having a late try ruled out by the video referee.