Challenge Cup final 2022: Liam Marshall's try snatches 16-14 win for Wigan Warriors over Huddersfield Giants
Liam Marshall crossed in the 77th minute to see Wigan edge out Huddersfield in the 2022 Betfred Challenge Cup final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium; Jai Field and Harry Smith, who kicked two goals, also crossed for the Warriors
By Marc Bazeley at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Last Updated: 29/05/22 12:06am
Liam Marshall's try three minutes from time saw Wigan Warriors claim the Betfred Challenge Cup for the 20th time with a 16-14 win over Huddersfield.
Tries from Ricky Leutele and Chris McQueen, plus a penalty from Tui Lolohea helped the Giants into a 10-6 lead at half-time after Harry Smith's converted score had briefly got the Warriors back on level terms.
But the irrepressible Jai Field put Wigan into the lead for the first time three minutes after the restart and although Huddersfield did retake the lead, there was no denying Matt Peet's side as Marshall chased down a kick from Harry Smith to finish in the corner for the game-clinching try.
Ian Watson's team were also left to rue four out of five missed kicks at goal from Lolohea and although second-row McQueen claimed the Lance Todd Trophy - the second year in a row the player of the match had finished on the losing team - it was scant consolation as the Giants missed out on lifting the Challenge Cup for the first time since 1953.
Story of the game
Huddersfield, 32-22 victors when these sides met in the Betfred Super League in the Cup final dress rehearsal two weeks ago, were determined to seize the initiative and wasted no time in going for points following an obstruction penalty against Wigan inside the first two minutes.
Lolohea duly made the most of the chance, landing the goal from around 40 metres out and it was only some superb defence from Bevan French which prevented Innes Senior scoring the opening try as the Giants tried to work a quick attack eight minutes later.
Indeed, the Warriors produced some superb goal-line defence as some uncharacteristic errors from the 19-time winners of this competition saw Huddersfield gain repeat sets, although it only seemed like it was delaying the inevitable and that proved to be the case.
Wigan's obdurate defence was eventually unlocked in the 17th minute by Leutele as the Giants attacked from a tap following a differential penalty at the scrum, with full-back Lolohea finding the centre for him to burst through a tackle attempt and finish for an unconverted try.
The Warriors had not been without opportunities of their own, but it was 20-year-old half-back Smith who was proving to be the heartbeat of the team and he dragged them back into the match in the 26th minute.
NRL Grand Final-winning second row Chris McQueen made his return to Huddersfield’s starting line-up, while Matty English came onto the bench for the Giants. Otherwise, the team was unchanged from the 17-16 win over Toulouse Olympique last time out in the Betfred Super League, meaning no place for Will Pryce after completing his 10-match ban.
Head coach Matt Peet named an unchanged starting XIII from Wigan’s 31-22 defeat to Hull FC in Super League but did spring a surprise on the bench with skipper Thomas Leuluai making an early than expected return from a knee injury. Prop Kaide Ellis was among the interchange players too after serving a suspension.
It was Smith's kick which had led to Wigan forcing Huddersfield to drop out from under their posts and then he was on hand to collect a nice offload from Morgan Smithies and race away from around 15 minutes out for a try which he also converted.
Nevertheless, it was the Giants who led at the break thanks to second-row McQueen's unconverted try as the one-time England international took a pass from Lolohea, threw an outrageous dummy and then cut back inside to finish.
Wigan began the second half fired up, though, and were ahead for the first time in the final barely three minutes after play had resumed as winger French was released down the right touchline and then passed back inside for Field, who had run an excellent support line and was able to apply the finish.
Smith duly added the extras and then Lolohea failed to land a penalty to draw Huddersfield level from a similar distance as his first-half kick, his third missed goal attempt of the afternoon. It would not be long before the Giants were back in front, however.
It all came as Lolohea collected a chip from Smith and then released Leutele to counter. He was brought down by a high tackle from Smithies and, from the resulting penalty, Huddersfield worked an attack from left to right which ended with Leroy Cudjoe effecting a superb one-handed offload for McGillvary to finish in the corner with 58 minutes gone.
The Giants then produced some immense defensive efforts to keep the Warriors at bay and it looked as if it was going to take a superb piece of skill to break them down.
Huddersfield Giants 14-16 Wigan Warriors scoring summary
Huddersfield Giants: Tries - Ricky Leutele, Chris McQueen, Jermaine McGillvary; Goal - Tui Lolohea.
Wigan Warriors: Tries - Harry Smith, Jai Field, Liam Marshall; Goals - Harry Smith (2).
That came in the 77th minute, though, as Smith spotted space in behind the defence and put through a grubber from 30 metres out which sat up perfectly for Marshall to grab and finish, taking the cup back to Wigan for the first time since 2013.
Both teams return to Super League action next week, with Huddersfield facing the difficult trip to last season's Grand Final runners-up Catalans Dragons on Friday (7.30pm UK time). Wigan, meanwhile, travel to Castleford Tigers on the Saturday afternoon.