Leeds Rhinos 39-28 Wigan Warriors
Superb Rhinos through to final
Leeds produced their best offensive performance of the season to stun holders and overwhelming favourites Wigan 39-28 and reach their third consecutive Challenge Cup final.
The Rhinos scored seven tries, four of them from wingmen Ryan Hall and Ben Jones-Bishop, to five in a breathtaking semi-final played in a wonderful atmosphere at Huddersfield's Galpharm Stadium to avenge their defeat by the Warriors at Wembley last August.
Leeds, who have not won the Cup since 1999, will seek to end their wait when they meet the winners of Sunday's tie between Huddersfield and Warrington at Wembley on August 25.
The victory came just six weeks after the Rhinos suffered a 50-8 mauling at home by Wigan but this time they managed to keep a tight rein on danger man Sam Tomkins, largely through the magnificent kicking of captain Kevin Sinfield, the man of the match.
Sinfield helped create four of his side's six first-half tries while the Rhinos were also well served by their other stalwarts Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow.
Leeds went into the game full of confidence after putting together a four-match winning run in Super League and how it showed as they got off to a blazing start with three tries in the first 10 minutes.
Hall set the scoreboard going just three minutes into the game, pouncing after Tomkins had uncharacteristically fumbled Sinfield's towering kick to the corner.
Sinfield's 40-20 kick then set up the position for Jones-Bishop to score his first try, taking centre Kallum Watkins' pass to touch down at the other corner.
Wigan could not get out of their own half at that stage and, when winger Josh Charnley lost the ball in Ryan Bailey's tackle on his own 20-metre line, the Rhinos struck again, with Jamie Peacock breaking through to get full-back Zak Hardaker over.
Sinfield added two of the conversions to make it 16-0 and Wigan's frustrations showed when Brett Finch was penalised for disputing referee Ben Thaler's decision to pull up his team for obstruction.
However, Finch quickly made amends by helping to create two tries in three minutes that brought the holders right back into the contest.
Centre George Carmont got the first, cutting a superb line from a scrum 10 metres out, while second rower Gareth Hock romped over from 40 metres, taking Finch's defence-splitting pass and using Tomkins as a foil before rounding Hardaker.
Tomkins landed both conversions to cut the deficit to just four points only for the Rhinos to go on another scoring burst.
Hall grabbed his second try, courtesy of a superb break and offload from McGuire, and looked certain to complete a first-half hat-trick when he gathered another pinpoint kick from Sinfield only for Charnley to dislodge the ball from his grasp.
However, it was only a brief respite, with Tomkins picking the ball up from an offside position and Bailey made the pressure tell when he stretched out of a two-man tackle to plant the ball on the line.
Charnley then pulled off a try-saving tackle on McGuire before Jones-Bishop registered his second try, taking Sinfield's kick by his finger-tips and touching down with inches to spare.
Sinfield was off target for the third time and Wigan took advantage to get back to within two scores before half-time.
The outstanding Finch put substitute Liam Farrell through a hole in the Leeds defence and, although the final pass was poor, Ben Flower demonstrated quick thinking to hack the ball forward and won the race to touch down.
Tomkins kicked his third conversion and added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 30-20.
Leeds gained further breathing space nine minutes into the second half when impressive second rower Brett Delaney burst through and got the supporting Hardaker over despite a suspicion of a knock-on by McGuire.
Wigan were still not finished, however, and skipper Sean O'Loughlin gathered Tomkins' kick to score his side's fourth try but they were also chasing the game.
Sinfield's 64th-minute drop goal effectively settled the tie but Wigan twice went close through Jack Hughes and Tomkins, while Hall was denied a hat-trick when he was penalised for a double movement.
Wigan eventually got their fifth try through Charnley but it was fitting that Sinfield should have the final say, putting over a last-minute penalty to wrap up the scoring.