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Match Preview: Leeds - 2011 Challenge Cup Final - 27th August 2011 at Wembley Stadium
Posted by Bilko on August 25 2011 - 15:52

Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors - Carnegie Challenge Cup Final.
Saturday 27th August 2011. Kick Off 2:30pm at Wembley Stadium, London.

Match Preview

Well the anticipation is nearly over and the big day almost upon us. Boy am I excited for this. I didn't enjoy the Grand Final build up because their was that lingering doubt that we'd be let down like so many times before but now we've won a trophy I can enjoy this one.

It's hard not to be confident either when you've already seen off both Warrington and St Helens. I can't help feeling that the hard work has already been done.

I mean don't buy this argument, put about by a Mr E.Hemmings of Sky TV amongst others, that Leeds have "come into form" ahead of the cup final. In their last 11 matches, only two of them have been against sides currently above them in the table, and they lost both.

In fact they've won just one match against sides above them in the table all year and that was a home win over the side directly above them, Catalan, in May. They did claim a draw against Wigan in April, also at Headingley when in fairness we robbed them blind, but they've lost all of the other six. They failed to win away at either Warrington, St Helens, Wigan or Catalan.

Compare that to Wigan who in their last 11 matches have claimed four wins against sides currently above Leeds in the table and only one of those wins came at DW Stadium.

In those last 11 Leeds matches, they lost to Harlequins, Bradford and struggled badly to win away at Crusaders and Salford. How? I've watched Salford and Bradford in the last fortnight and find it hard to understand how they struggled against them.

Still, whatever their form, it is all about on the day and Leeds do have big game experience. They still have 13 players available on Saturday who played in the 2009 Grand Final they won against St Helens. I just don't think they've done enough this season to suggest they will be able to overhaul Wigan.

However we do remember 2002. I wrote in the match preview for that one that "the more and more St Helens get built up by the press, the more and more I feel we'll win on Saturday", and we remember what happened. So you can't right off a shock.

I just don't feel though that Leeds can beat us, if we are at our best. They don't seem to be able to score tries from deep anymore. Watching the Semi Final against Castleford it seemed that the only break in them would come from Ben Jones-Bishop? Whereas Wigan have been breaking for fun in recent weeks with Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley, George Carmont and Pat Richards all getting in on the act.

Seriously, my only fear for this final is if Wigan fail to turn up mentally, and I just can't see that happening under Michael Maguire. He just has this side so mentally switched on - week in, week out. They've proved already that they are desperate to win this cup and that tells me they will be turning up in the right mental state on Saturday.

In the Grand Final last year, Wigan came out on fire and took control right from the off and never looked back. It can be vital to get off to a good start because history tells you that it is hard to chase down games in Cup Finals. I think Leeds best chance is to score early and I expect that they'll be trying to do just that. If we are level or leading after 20 minutes, we should be very happy with that.

I don't really need to point out the danger men for Leeds. If Danny McGuire turns up, he is always a danger and Rob Burrow is always buzzing around. The pack though really doesn't worry me one bit. Under Brian Noble our pack would get run over in most big games but it just doesn't happen anymore.

The reason the pack battle doesn't worry me is the age of the Leeds players. I thought it was interesting after the Semi Finals to watch the two sides "victory songs" on the tv coverage. Ours after beating St Helens was full of energy. The Leeds effort looked very tired and lethargic in comparison.

Facts are - Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and Danny Buderus are aged 33, Ali Lauitiiti is 32, Kevin Sinfield is almost 31 and Jamie Jones-Buchanan is now 30. Compare that to Wigan's pack - only Andy Coley is aged over 30. In fact in the whole Wigan squad only George Carmont and Brett Finch (who turned 30 last Saturday) join him in the over 30 bracket.

This is why I expect a youthful Wigan side to run them ragged, I really do. The last half hour of the Bradford game said it all for me. Rather than switching off, they kept going and totally blitzed a tired Bulls pack. I won't be surprised if that happens to Leeds on a big Wembley pitch.

The only real debate for coach Maguire, in terms of the team, is who to leave out. Unlike Leeds we report a fully fit 19 man squad. Clearly Darrell Goulding will be left out and it's between Gareth Hock and Liam Farrell for the other spot. Personally, I think Hock would edge that. I'm a big Ginger Farrell fan but Hock offers a little bit more. A whisper tells me Farrell will get the nod though - we shall see.

Leeds are still apparently assessing Kallum Watkins and Carl Ablett but personally I couldn't give a stuff if either play. It's all about what we do these days rather than the opposition.

Some will obviously point out that Leeds have done well against us under Maguire at times. The cup win last year, the play off win last year, the draw at Headingley this year, even the narrow loss they had at DW Stadium last month. You have to take that on board but I think this is a different Wigan team now. In the last few weeks they have grown in so much confidence, especially after hammering Warrington in their own back yard. Maybe I'm being too over confident, time will tell. But whatever happens I'll be bloody enjoying my day out! It's better than being sat at home watching Warrington or Saints lift the bloody thing, like we'd done for the past five seasons!

Bring it on! Enjoy your day out - and come on Wigan!!

Cup Final Replay

If the match is drawn after 80 Minutes the game will not go to Extra Time. The Final would go to a replay to be held at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United FC on Wednesday 7th September (Kick Off 7:30pm) and shown live on BBC TWO.

Timeline of Events

12noon Turnstiles open
12:35pm Carnegie Champion Schools Final
1:00pm Carnegie Champion Schools Parade
1:50pm Carnegie Challenge Cup Final Teams begin on-pitch warm-up
1.55pm Black Dyke Band performance
2:10pm Team line-ups announced
2:15pm "Giants of Rugby" Performance
2:25pm Rhydian Roberts leads singing of ‘Abide With Me’ and Natinal Anthem.
2:30pm Match kicks-off
3:10pm Half-time
3:15pm Community Club of the Year presentation
3:20pm Four Nations preview with England players and special guests
3:30pm Second half kicks-off
4:10pm Full-time including presentation of Carnegie Challenge Cup and medals

19 Man Squads

IN:l Andy Coley, Brett Finch, Lee Mossop
OUT:l Eamon O'Carroll, Stefan Marsh, Jack Hughes

Full 19: Sam Tomkins, Darrell Goulding, George Carmont, Pat Richards, Paul Deacon, Thomas Leuluai, Michael McIlorum, Andy Coley, Harrison Hansen, Joel Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin, Paul Prescott, Jeff Lima, Ryan Hoffman, Brett Finch, Lee Mossop, Liam Farrell, Josh Charnley, Gareth Hock 

IN:l Jamie Peacock, Ian Kirke, Ryan Bailey 
OUT:l Jay Pitts, Paul McShane, Zak Hardaker

Full 19: Brent Webb, Lee Smith, Brett Delaney, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai, Danny Buderus, Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Kevin Sinfield, Ali Lauitiiti, Ryan Bailey, Ian Kirke, Kallum Watkins, Weller Hauraki, Chris Clarkson, Ben Jones-Bishop.

Match Referee

Phil Bentham (Warrington) - Age 40
First Pro Game: Sheffield 34 London Skolars 6 - 22nd February 2004
First Super League Game: Wakefield 30 Hull 32 - 11th September 2005
First Wigan Game: Wigan 36 Huddersfield 20 - 24th February 2006
Finals Officiated: First Final as a Referee.

Wigan's Record when this referee is appointed

Wigan have Won 10, Drawn 1 and Lost 15 from 26 appointments.
This Season: Won 3, Drawn 1 and Lost 0 from 4 appointments.

Video Referee

Steve Ganson

Wigan v Leeds Challenge Cup Head to Head Records

Overall Played 28 Wigan 14 Wins Leeds 13 Wins 1 Draws

Full List of Previous Challenge Cup Ties

Date Round Home Team Away Team  
1898-1899 Round 2 Leeds 03 Wigan 00
1910-1911 Quarter Final Leeds 04 Wigan 13
1912-1913 Round 1 Wigan 38 Leeds 00
1924-1925 Round 2 Leeds 02 Wigan 00
1925-1926 Round 2 Leeds 17 Wigan 10
1926-1927 Round 2 Leeds 13 Wigan 03
1937-1938 Round 1 Leeds 27 Wigan 04
1943-1944 SF 1st Leg Leeds 10 Wigan 05
1943-1944 SF 2nd Leg Wigan 11 Leeds 04 (Agg 16-14)
1946-1947 Quarter Final Wigan 00 Leeds 05
1947-1948 Round 2 Wigan 17 Leeds 03
1949-1950 Round 2 Leeds 07 Wigan 02
1956-1957 Round 1 Leeds 13 Wigan 11
1958-1959 Round 1 Wigan 12 Leeds 05
1959-1960 Round 2 Wigan 14 Leeds 11
1960-1961 Round 1 Leeds 05 Wigan 05
1960-1961 R1 Replay Wigan 32 Leeds 07
1962-1963 Round 2 Wigan 20 Leeds 11
1965-1966 Semi Final Wigan 07 Leeds 02 (Fartown)
1967-1968 Semi Final Leeds 25 Wigan 04 (Swinton)
1972-1973 Round 1 Leeds 11 Wigan 25
1987-1988 Round 2 Wigan 30 Leeds 14
1993-1994 Final Wigan 26 Leeds 16 (Wembley)
1994-1995 Final Wigan 30 Leeds 10 (Wembley)
1999 Round 4 Leeds 28 Wigan 18
2007 Round 5 Leeds 18 Wigan 22
2008 Quarter Final Leeds 23 Wigan 16
2010 Quarter Final Leeds 12 Wigan 10

Challenge Cup Final Records

Wigan Played 28 Wigan 17 Wins Opposition 11 Wins
Leeds Played 21 Leeds 11 Wins Opposition 10 Wins

Wigan Form Guide - Last Six Matches - Won 6 Lost 0

Date Opposition Competition Result Score
19th August Bradford (H) SL 16 Round 25 Won 60-12
14th August Salford (H) SL 16 Round 24 Won 52-18
6th August St Helens (N) Challenge Cup SF Won 18-12
29th July Hull FC (A) SL 16 Round 23 Won 30-16
23rd July Warrington (A) Challenge Cup QF Won 44-24
15th July Wakefield (H) SL 16 Round 22 Won 48-06

Leeds Form Guide - Last Six Matches - Won 5 Lost 1

Date Opposition Competition Result Score
20th August Harlequins (A) SL 16 Round 25 Lost 22-32
12th August Castleford (H) SL 16 Round 24 Won 56-00
7th August Castleford (N) Challenge Cup SF Won 10-08
29th July Salford (A) SL 16 Round 23 Won 30-22
24th July Hull FC (A) Challenge Cup QF Won 38-22
15th July Hull FC (H) SL 16 Round 22 Won 20-00

UK TV Coverage

BBC Cup Final coverage begins at 1:30pm with pre match build up available via interactive services. This coverage promises "predictions, the latest news and features with both Wigan and Leeds." For details our to access this - see next block down!

The main coverage on BBC ONE and BBC ONE HD begins at 2:15pm and will be presented by Clare Balding. Studio Pundits will be Jonathan Davies, Brian Noble and Justin Morgan with the pitch-side reporting team being Tanya Arnold and Damien Johnson, with Robbie Paul.

Commentary team will be Dave Woods and John Kear. Dave Woods will be doing his third cup final commentary since he replaced Ray French as lead BBC match commentator in 2009.

Sky Sports will show 1 hour highlights of the final at 10pm on Saturday Night and on Sunday Morning at 9:30pm.

To Watch Interactive Pre Match Build Up


On Sky and Virgin Cable press "Text" at 1:30pm and it should say "Press Select for Sport Multiscreen". If it doesn't enter page number 3001 and press select.

International TV Coverage

New Zealand 1 Hour Delay Early Sunday 2:30am Sky Sport 3 HD
Serbia LIVE Saturday 3:30pm Sport Klub 5 -
Egypt LIVE Saturday 3:30pm OSN Sports 4 -
Dubai LIVE Saturday 5:30pm OSN Sports 4 -
Australia Delay Late Sunday 0:30am Channel Nine -

Radio Commentary

BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra - National Radio Commentary on DAB Digital Radio with Stuart Pyke, David Oates and Ian Millward.

BBC Radio Manchester 95.1FM/DAB - Full Match commentary with Trevor Hunt and Salford coach Matt Parrish.

Wish FM - Will not being doing match commentary on the final.

Weather Forecast

Possible Showers.

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