St Helens prop Alex Walmsley helped his team to a crucial victory over Wakefield before leaving early to rush to the side of his wife as she gave birth to their first child.
Walmsley put stand-off Theo Fages over for a 64th-minute try that brought Saints right back into contention but was then substituted and was on his way to the hospital when makeshift centre Jonny Lomax went over for the match-winner three minutes from the end.
The former Batley forward arrived too late to witness the birth of his son but was told of his side’s precious 18-16 victory by a jubilant coach Justin Holbrook.
“He’s had a baby boy and she had it very quickly,” Holbrook said. “He’s on his way now. I’ve just spoken to him. He’s thrilled that we won and I’m thrilled for him.”
The Super 8s victory ended a run of three defeats and keeps alive St Helens’ play-off semi-final hopes alive but it was a close-run thing.
Two tries from winger Bill Tupou, one of them a scintillating 90-metre effort, helped give Wakefield a 12-6 half-time lead and Liam Finn kept his side in front with two penalties but he hit the upright with two other kicks at goal.
“It’s fantastic that we came up with the win tonight,” Holbrook said. “I thought it was a really good game of rugby league.
“Wakefield were outstanding but we fought all the way to the end. It just shows you never write off the Saints. It was pretty obvious we needed it and we got it, so I’m rapped.
“I’m just happy we’re still alive, it’s exciting.”
Holbrook said Lomax provided him with a favour by switching from half-back to centre when Ryan Morgan failed a late fitness test while he was delighted with the debut of 19-year-old forward Matty Lees, who was chosen ahead of Kyle Amor.
“It was a tough game to make your debut in and I thought he did a really good job,” Holbrook said. “I’m happy for him.
“I’ve been watching him in the academy and he played three or four good games for the reserves so he deserved his opportunity and I thought he went well.”
Wakefield stay fourth and, although they will slip out of the semi-final places if Wigan beat Hull on Friday night, victories in their last two fixtures against Hull and Wigan could keep them on course for Old Trafford.
Lomax scored his try after an error by Scott Grix but Wakefield coach Chris Chester absolved the former Huddersfield full-back of any blame for the defeat.
“We’re all disappointed,” Chester said. “I felt we controlled the game pretty well. Maybe we were a bit guilty of going into our shell too early, but I thought for 78 minutes we looked pretty comfortable and played some pretty decent stuff.
“There was an error at the back but I’m not having a pop at Grixy. He wears his heart on his sleeve, been one of my best signings this season.
“He’s apologised to me and the boys but I’ve said there was no need, the damage was done a few tackles earlier. We failed to stop their offloading game.
“It’s very hard to take - Finny hit the post twice to potentially win us the game and you could see them grow a leg when he missed the second one.
“I’m devastated for the boys but it’s still in our hands. We’re disappointed but we’re not too downbeat. We’ve had a fantastic season and we want to finish it strong. We need to go to Hull to get a win and that sets it up nicely against Wigan at home.”