Challenge Cup final: Warrington Wolves beat St Helens at Wembley
By Marc Bazeley at Wembley
Last Updated: 26/08/19 8:47am
Warrington Wolves finally got one over on St Helens at the fourth time of asking in 2019 as they triumphed 18-4 to lift the Challenge Cup.
The deadlock was eventually broken after an end-to-end opening quarter at Wembley when Joe Philbin powered over on 25 minutes for the Wolves' first try of the game against the League Leaders' Shield winners, who had beaten them three times in Super League so far this season.
He was followed soon after by Ben Murdoch-Masila, with Stefan Ratchford converting both to put Warrington 12-0 up at half-time.
Theo Fages gave Saints a glimmer of hope with an unconverted score following a long spell of pressure after the break, but Lance Todd Trophy winner Daryl Clark's try inside the final 10 minutes put the seal on Warrington's first triumph since 2012.
St Helens went into the game as favourites to claim the Challenge Cup for the first time since 2008, having swept all before them in Super League so far this year, having already wrapped up the League Leaders' Shield at the start of this month and aiming to keep their treble hopes alive.
Warrington were without star half-back Blake Austin too - Ben Currie lining up alongside Declan Patton at stand-off - due to injury, but it was Steve Price's side who were celebrating when the full-time hooter sounded at Wembley.
The result served to banish memories 12 months ago when the Wolves were victims of an upset of their own, losing to French side Catalans Dragons, and saw Price claim his first trophy as head coach of the Cheshire club.
It was a result founded on Warrington's immense defensive effort - something Price had called on his side to improve in the build-up to this match. Opposite number Justin Holbrook, meanwhile, will be left to rue the uncharacteristic errors his side came up with.
Saints were perhaps unfortunate not to take the lead when television replays suggested Morgan Knowles got the ball down in-goal, but the on-field call by the match officials decided not to refer to the video referee, while Mark Percival had a possible score ruled out as well.
The opening quarter was a high-intensity back and forth from both teams though, but two mistakes from the favourites led to Warrington seizing the initiative.
The first came in the 25th minute when the Wolves got a repeat set following a knock-on from a pass and that led to hooker Clark setting up interchange forward Philbin to power his way over under the posts from around 20 metres out, giving Ratchford a simple conversion attempt.
Eight minutes later, full-back Lachlan Coote spilled a high kick which led to a scrum and Warrington turned the screw, working the ball left and then back across to the right wing where Jack Hughes set up Murdoch-Masila to step on the gas and burst through a gap for a second converted score.
St Helens roared back after the break and a superb last-ditch tackle from Bryson Goodwin denied Tommy Makinson a score as the winger dived for the corner with an outstretched arm five mintues after the restart.
The pressure eventually told on Warrington in the 56th minute as Patton made the mistakes of kicking the ball out on the full 10 metres from his own line and, from the restart, diminutive French half-back Fages darted through to dot down.
He went from hero to villain though, coming up with the knock-on which led to the game-clinching try seven minutes from time which saw the inspirational Clark sprint over from dummy-half and Patton add the extras to seal victory.