SALFORD Red Devils came from behind late on to deny Warrington Wolves a third successive trip to Wembley.
The Wolves turned a 14-8 half-time lead in to a 22-12 advantage going in to the final 15 minutes, before James Greenwood gave Salford hope and then Joey Lussick powered over with six minutes to play to give the Red Devils a 24-22 win.
It will be Salford’s first Challenge Cup final since 1969, and they have only won the competition once before – way back in 1938.
The two sides had met on Tuesday in Super League, albeit in very different circumstances, as both coaches made wholesale changes to rest their big names for this one.
All of those returned today, with Stefan Ratchford named at stand-off for Warrington and Blake Austin at loose forward, as Steve Price looked to accommodate Matty Ashton at full-back and in-form centres Toby King and Anthony Gelling.
It was King that got the first try at the Totally Wicked Stadium, minutes after former Wolves back-rower Tyrone McCarthy had been sent to the sin-bin.
Ratchford added a conversion and a penalty shortly after to make it 8-0, though just as McCarthy returned to restore parity in terms of men on the field, Salford crossed for their first score through Kallum Watkins.
Warrington scored a second try through Austin three minutes before the break, but tellingly, from a short kick-off, Salford retrieved possession and a few tackles later earned a penalty under the sticks which Krisnan Inu converted to get them within six points at half time.
An Inu try two minutes in to the second half would reduce that deficit to just two, before a Gareth Widdop penalty after 50 minutes made it 16-12.
Ben Murdoch-Masila scored against his former club to give the Wolves some breathing space until Salford’s late show, Lussick forcing his way over under the posts to set up a final date with Leeds on October 17.
After the game a disappointed Head Coach Steve Price, tasting only his second challenge cup defeat with the club, admitted Salford had been the better team, adapting to the weather conditions.
Salford: Sarginson, Williams, Watkins, Welham, Inu, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Lussick, Dudson, McCarthy, Greenwood, Flanagan. Subs: Burke, Ikahihifo, Kear, Pauli.
Warrington: Ashton, Mamo, Gelling, King, Charnley, Ratchford, Widdop, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Austin. Subs: Philbin, Clark, Murdoch-Masila, Walker.