SAT PM: Challenge Cup Final Warrington 25 - Giants 16
Aug 29 2009 By Ian Laybourn, PA
WARRINGTON cast aside their dismal Super League form in glorious fashion to end their 35-year wait to get their hands on the Challenge Cup.
In the first cup final for 23 years not to feature any of the game’s traditional ’big four’ of St Helens, Leeds, Bradford and Wigan, it was the Wolves who held their nerve in front of a 76,560 crowd at Wembley to defeat a disappointing Huddersfield.
Warrington are almost certain to miss out on the top-eight play-offs after winning just one of their last six league matches but that will be of little concern to their 22,000 fans who turned Wembley primrose and blue.
Once again Tony Smith’s men were able to find their best form on the big occasion and Michael Monaghan and Lee Briers, the men who destroyed Wigan in the semi-final, again proved the match-winners.
Briers, who has waited 13 years to get his hands on some major silverware, was edged out in the voting for the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match by Monaghan, whose devastating play from dummy-half proved crucial.
Today’s victory was also a personal triumph for Adrian Morley, who led his side to their first Wembley win since 1974 exactly 10 years after helping Leeds to their win over London Broncos at the "old" Wembley, and coach Tony Smith for whom victory helped erase the memory of Leeds’ defeat by Hull four years ago.
Huddersfield, whose last Wembley triumph was in 1953, were a shadow of the side that defeated holders St Helens in the semi-finals as their key players produced below-par performances.
The Giants were also left to curse video referee Phil Bentham, from Warrington, who disallowed first-half tries to Shaun Lunt and David Hodgson that might have been awarded on another day.
Lunt, arguably Huddersfield’s best player, was ruled to have used a double movement on the first occasion and then caused an obstruction on defender Chris Bridge, but on such borderline calls are matches decided.
Had the video official been able to rule on the opening try by Richard Mathers he would have spotted a knock-on by Louis Anderson from his charge-down of full-back Brett Hodgson’s attempted clearance kick.
That try gave the Wolves the perfect start but Huddersfield were level when Lunt demonstrated exceptional pace to finish off a break by skipper Hodgson.