Did you this is the first final of the Super League era that doesn’t feature one of the Big Four sides? Did you know that this is the first Challenge Cup final sinct 1986 that doesn’t feature either Wigan, St Helens, Leeds or Bradford. We get a game between the Warrington Wolves and the Huddersfield Giants, two sides who have been producing minor classics on their run to Wembley. This has the makings of a very interesting game, with intriguing matchups all over the pitch.
Forwards: Probably the most intriguing matchup of all is a very tasty clash in the middle of the park between two heavyweight packs. Warrington bring the boom big-style with a cannonball front row of Gareth Carvell and Adrian Morley (who has been heroic on the run to Wembley) backed up by a solid back row of Westwood, Louis Anderson and Ben Harrison who has come into his own this season. The Giants have a less big-name pack but their props are all solid units (I’m really hoping for a Morley – Eorl Crabtree encounter) and if anything their back row is even more dynamic (Stephen Wild needs more recognition).
Backs: The Giants’ backs are underrated, and Bret Hodgson is clearly the best full back in Super League. Their young players like Leroy Cudjoe have really made an impact this year, and they have canny experience in Paul Whatuira anchoring the backline. The Warrington backline is somewhat of an enigma, running either really hot or really cold (often in the same game). They have clicked fairly often in this competition, though.
Brains: At last, Lee Briers gets to play at Wembley. Will he excel on the big stage? The key for Warrington will be making sure he doesn’t have to do it all himself. Vinnie Anderson has been named at stand-off but I suspect he’ll alternate with Chris Bridge. Michael Monaghan appears to have found his groove at hooker and I imagine Mickey Higham will have his say off the bench. The Giants have been controlled adeptly by Luke Robinson and Kevin Brown all year, and Hodson has added a completely new dimension to their attack from the back.
Form: Both sides have lost their last two games. However, the Giants’ last defeat was essentially a second team narrowly losing at Saints, which is a sort of moral victory. Warrington have seemed deflated in the last two weeks, but it’s possible that they’ve been saving themselves.
So, who’s going to win? I feel everything favours Huddersfield and I think they should win. But of course no one really knows what’s going to happen on the day and I have this nagging feeling about Wire. I do think that this should be a cracking game and I’m looking forward to it immensely.