WIGAN WARRIORS 12-16 HULL FC
Hull came from behind to defeat Shaun Wane’s Wigan Warriors as the Airlie Birds secured a place in their second Challenge Cup final in the last four years. For long periods, it looked like the Cherry and Whites were going to see their opponents off but the Super League leaders showed their resilient side to respond and pip Wigan to the victory.
George Williams opened the scoring for Wigan with what would be the only try of a quiet first 40 minutes. However, Marc Sneyd slotted over a penalty kick to reduce the deficit to four points before half-time and that seemed to give Hull the impetus to push on in the second half.
Steve Michaels forced himself over the line to give the Airlie Birds a slender lead before Fetuli Talanoa punished Warriors star Dom Manfredi after he fumbled to gift Hull possession in a dangerous area. And after Sneyd converted both scores, Hull had a decent advantage and time was running out for Wane’s men...
Willie Isa scored late on to force a nervy ending but Hull held on to progress to the final of the competition. And despite their struggles in the first half, the Airlie Birds were certainly deserving of their spot in the showpiece event at the end of August. After all, they’ve been phenomenal throughout the competition and could well go on to win the trophy...
WARRINGTON WOLVES 56-12 WAKEFIELD WILDCATS
Tony Smith’s side thrashed Wakefield to join Hull in the Challenge Cup final with a pretty straightforward victory. The Wildcats took an early lead through Craig Hall before Warrington responded with 52 unanswered points to secure the win. Jack Hughes, Daryl Clark, Rhys Evans and Kurt Gidley all scored tries before the break – putting the Wolves in a commanding position.
In the second half, the Wire were rampant; notching six further tries to pile the misery further on Wakefield’s shoulders. Chris Sandow, Stefan Ratchford, Ben Currie and Ben Westwood got their name on the scoreboard whilst Toby King scored a double to send a clear statement of intent to their rivals ahead of the Super Eights.
On their day, Warrington are capable of beating anybody and the Wolves were at their very best against Wakefield on Saturday afternoon. Tony Smith’s men have their own unique brand of attacking rugby and the Wildcats just couldn’t handle their prowess in the final third of the field.
If truth be told, they were never really under pressure – it was all very easy for the Wolves once they built up a lead. Warrington were able to expose Wakefield’s suspect defensive line on a regular basis and Hull FC will have to be at their very best to cope with Warrington’s potent offensive threat.
A LOOK AHEAD TO THE FINAL
So, who will win the trophy? Well, it’s a very tough one to call. Both teams finished in the top two of the Super League regular season – a statistic that probably shows they deserve their place in the final. If Warrington’s offense clicks, Hull will find it very difficult to cope with their immense threat. However, the Airlie Birds’ hard-hitting defence could overpower Warrington’s offensive prowess; it is sure to be a great tactical battle.
If I had to back one, it would be Warrington. Their ‘big game’ mentality and experience should see them emerge victorious...