Holbrook happy to take Saints back to Wembley after 11 year wait

Saints players celebrate their semi-final win , Picture: SWPix
Saints players celebrate their semi-final win , Picture: SWPix

Saints finally put their Challenge Cup semi-final hoodoo to rest on Saturday and booked a Wembley spot for the first time since 2008.

Five defeats at the the penultimate stage of the competition between 2009 and 2018 was becoming a mill stone around their neck but the 12-times trophy winner lifted the burden off their shoulders by brushing aside the stubborn and defiant resistance of Championship club Halifax at Bolton.

A 26-2 scoreline suggests a comfortable ride for the runaway Betfred Super League leaders but they were far from their best and only led by six points at the interval before cream eventually rose to the top.

Head coach Justin Holbrook said: ''I'm just happy the result went our way and we are back at Wembley after an absence of 11 years .

''We anticipated a tough game - and that's how it turned out - but it was also good for the competition in this country to have a Championship side in the last four and to play as well as they did was great.''

Holbrook added: ''I knew Halifax were always going to make it hard for us. It was a tricky game to play when you are the side that people said had already won the contest before the ball was kicked.

''Everyone was aware we hadn't been to Wembley since 2008 and that weighed heavily on my boys' shoulders.

“'We tried to play a bit too much football in the first half and didn't handle the situation very well, but we settled down a bit better in the second half which was great.''

Halifax coach Simon Grix said: "I'm extremely proud of my players. I said all week I didn't think we would be beaten for effort and I don't think anyone could argue about that.

"Saints will know they've been in a game when they wake up in the morning.

"It could have been a fairytale ending but the likelihood was we were going to get beaten.

"At 8-2 behind, we were still in the game but also committed a lot of
errors.. The effort was brilliant - and I think my players actually surprised themselves - and definitely earned a beer or two."