Leon Pryce celebrates Saints' second try with team-mate Matt Gidley
St Helens coach Daniel Anderson heaped praise on Leeds after vanquishing the Rhinos 26-16 in Saturday's Challenge Cup semi-final at the Galpharm Stadium.
"Leeds were very courageous. They lost a few players before the game and then Rob Burrow and Clinton Toopi during it," said the 41-year-old Australian.
He added: "I'm extremely relieved because I thought we had done enough to win the game 10 times over.
"I think my heart-rate went well above what it should be in the second half."
Leeds produced a superb fightback after the break, reducing the 18-2 deficit to 18-12 thanks to tries from Ali Lauitiiti and Scott Donald.
But a penalty from Sean Long, who scored five goals from five, and a late try from Bryn Hargreaves ended Rhinos' hopes.
"We had so many opportunities to put the game to bed," added Anderson, who steps down as Saints coach at the end of the season.
"We lacked rhythm but that is as much to do with Leeds and the conditions out there.
We scored at crucial times in the game and that is what got us home in the end
"Defensively, I thought we were dynamic and powerful, and I thought we were resilient in the heat."
Jon Wilkin felt that Saints had not been at their best but said they deserved their victory.
"I thought we played OK, but I don't think either team really got going," he said. "We scored at crucial times in the game and that is what got us home in the end."
James Graham, who set up the decisive Hargreaves try and was later named man of the match after an uncompromising display, admitted it had been a struggle.
"It's been a long build-up," he said. "I think everyone had their eye on this for quite some time.
"But you can never write off Leeds. They are a class team and you can't afford to switch off, which we maybe did a bit in the second half.
"I'm just so pleased for all the people involved to get to Wembley again. I know how much it means to the chairman and the gaffer, but it's for everyone."
Long echoed Graham's sentiments.
"This trophy means a lot to us and we are glad to get back to Wembley," said the scrum-half.
"It was a good team performance and it all comes from defence. You get your confidence from that."
St Helens will play either Hull FC or Wakefield in the final, which takes place on 30 August. They meet at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday in a game live on BBC Two (1530 BST).
"I'm not real fazed about who we play," said Anderson. "I still think we are an extremely difficult team to play against if we play to our potential."
As for Leeds, they will now turn their attentions back to Super League as they attempt to make a successful defence of their title.
"The players can look at each and know that the man next to them gave their best," said Rhinos coach Brian McClennan. "That is important because we are all very disappointed.
"It was a competition we wanted to do well in but we weren't good enough. St Helens were very good. They kept winning territory and were clinical."