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Challenge Cup final: Wigan Warriors' Matt Peet hails victory over Warrington Wolves as 'best' trophy so far

Matt Peet calls Wigan Warriors' 18-8 victory over Warrington Wolves at Wembley in the Betfred Challenge Cup final the best of his reign so far; Matty Smith full of praise for his St Helens side as they retained the Betfred Women's Challenge Cup with another win over Leeds Rhinos

Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors - Betfred Challenge Cup - Final - Wembley Stadium
Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet (centre) pose with the trophy, player Bevan French (left) with the man of the match trophy, and Liam Farrell celebrate after the final whistle in the Betfred Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday June 8, 2024.
Image: Wigan head coach Matt Peet, captain Liam Farrell and Lance Todd Trophy winner Bevan French celebrate their Challenge Cup success

Matt Peet declared Wigan Warriors' Betfred Challenge Cup triumph the best one of his reign so far on an emotional day at Wembley.

The Warriors' 18-8 triumph marked the second time head coach Peet had guided his hometown club to rugby league's oldest and most prestigious knockout prize, having won the trophy at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium two years ago.

It comes on the back of Wigan claiming the Betfred Super League Grand Final and League Leaders' Shield last year, and the World Club Challenge earlier this year, and means they hold every trophy up for grabs - sealing a 21st Challenge Cup triumph on a day when the sport came together to honour the memory of Rob Burrow CBE.

"This is the best," Peet said, reflecting on his side's victory. "I just felt the momentum of things were shaping up that it was going to be a difficult game.

"There was a lot going on around the game, so I was just proud the players committed to one another in the way they did.

"I think it's an emotional week for everyone in rugby league. Rob is such a special character and it stirs up emotions for everyone.

"That was a side, I think. When I talk about our motivation, it was more around the carrot of achieving something special, to put that fourth trophy in the cabinet."

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Picture by Ed Sykes/ - 08/06/2024 - Rugby League - Betfred Challenge Cup Final - Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors - Wembley Stadium, London, England -  Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors players lined up
Image: Tributes were paid to Rob Burrow throughout the day at Wembley

One of those who the day's tributes to Burrow, who died last Sunday at the age of 41 after a long battle with motor neurone disease, struck a chord with particularly was Wigan stand-off Bevan French, whose mother died after being diagnosed with MND as well.

The Warriors' 16-14 victory over Huddersfield Giants in 2022 came after her passing and marked the first trophy the Australian had won, with French putting in a display this time which saw him earn the Lance Todd Trophy after scoring a try and setting another up for Zach Eckersley.

"A couple of years ago I lost my mum to the same thing," French said. "It connected to me a bit emotionally.

"The fact Rob passed away like that and it was the Challenge Cup as well, which was the first trophy I won after my mum's passing from the same thing.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 08/06/2024 - Rugby League - Betfred Challenge Cup Final - Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors - Wembley Stadium, London, England - Bevan French with the Lance Todd Trophy
Image: Wigan's Bevan French was awarded the Lance Todd Trophy for player of the match

"All I was thinking about was we'd spoken about as a club what we hold now collectively."

Warrington's defeat meant rookie head coach Sam Burgess was denied lifting the Challenge Cup in his first season at the helm, although the Wolves are still fighting it out at the top of Super League along with reigning champions Wigan.

Although naturally disappointed with the outcome, Burgess believes the experience will stand his side in good stead as their focus switches to the second half of the league campaign.

"We've got a young squad with 12 players who've never played in a final, so you like to think we're going to be better next time," Burgess said. "It's experience for us as a group.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 08/06/2024 - Rugby League - Betfred Challenge Cup Final - Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors - Wembley Stadium, London, England - Warrington's George WIlliams dejected after his side's loss to Wigan in the Betfred Challenge Cup final.
Image: Warrington captain George Williams and his team-mates were left dejected at full time

"I wouldn't say we froze, but probably the occasion got us a bit early.

"We just didn't play the way we've played all year and that's the most disappointing thing out of the day.

Smith hails 'outstanding' Saints after another cup triumph

Matty Smith struggled to imagine how St Helens could better their performance after his side clinched their fourth consecutive Women's Challenge Cup crown with a ruthless 22-0 shut-out win over Leeds at Wembley.

Faye Gaskin scored the first of four Saints tries and kicked three conversions as the holders punished their below-par opponents, who duly slid to their third Challenge Cup final defeat in a row.

Picture by Ed Sykes/ - 08/06/2024 - Rugby League - Betfred Women's Challenge Cup Final - Leeds Rhinos v St Helens - Wembley Stadium, London, England - Captain Jodie Cunningham and Head Coach Matty Smith
Image: St Helens captain Jodie Cunningham and head coach Matty Smith celebrate with the Women's Challenge Cup

"Our defensive display today won us the game," St Helens head coach Smith said. "We were just outstanding. I don't know how we can improve on that to be honest - at this moment in time I couldn't be any happier.

"We saved our best performance of the past month for the biggest stage. Leeds are a quality side, but what we've done in the past four years, to go back-to-back-to-back-to-back, is something we'll never get bored of."

Phoebe Hook, Luci McColm and Chantelle Crowl also scored tries as Leeds, who sported the name of club hero Burrow on the back of the shirts, barely got a look in.

Leeds head coach Lois Forsell admitted an emotional week may have taken its toll but stressed she had no excuses for a below-par display from her side.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 08/06/2024 - Rugby League - Betfred Women's Challenge Cup Final - Leeds Rhinos v St Helens - Wembley Stadium, London, England - Leeds... Isabel Northrup and Caitlin Beevers dejected after the loss to St Helens
Image: Leeds duo Isabel Northrup and Caitlin Beevers console each other after the defeat to St Helens

"We've had quite a lot of different influences on the week, and it's been a tough one, but today was about getting the job done and we weren't good enough on the day," Forsell said.

"We made quite a few individual errors, and we didn't put into practice what we had done in training. We didn't turn up as a collective and I don't think we gave a true account of ourselves."

Watch every match of the 2024 Betfred Super League season, including Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and men's, women's, and wheelchair Grand Finals, live on Sky Sports. Also stream with NOW.

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