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Challenge Cup Final Match Report: Leeds 18 Wigan 28
Posted by Bilko on August 27 2011 - 22:42

Click: Last Match - Click: Next Match

Saturday 26th August 2011
Leeds Rhinos 18 Wigan Warriors 28
Wembley Stadium, London
Carnegie Challenge Cup Final

Kick Off 2:35pm


- Wigan       - Leeds    
1 Sam Tomkins       1 Brent Webb    
25 Josh Charnley  T      23 Ben Jones-Bishop  T   
12 Joel Tomkins  T      19 Kallum Watkins    
4 George Carmont       12 Carl Ablett  T   
5 Pat Richards    G4    5 Ryan Hall  T2   
17 Brett Finch       13 Kevin Sinfield    G 
6 Paul Deacon       6 Danny McGuire    
15 Jeff Lima  T2      8 Kylie Leuluai    
7 Thomas Leuluai  T      9 Danny Buderus    
10 Andy Coley       10 Jamie Peacock    
11 Harrison Hansen       11 Jamie Jones-Buchanan    
16 Ryan Hoffman       3 Brett Delaney    
13 Sean O'Loughlin       20 Weller Hauraki    
9 Michael McIlorum       7 Rob Burrow    
14 Paul Prescott       16 Ryan Bailey    
21 Lee Mossop       17 Ian Kirke    
22 Liam Farrell       21 Chris Clarkson    


The Grand Final is a good event but it doesn't compete with the cup final voyage to Wembley. Yes the new Wembley is expensive, the surrounding area is pretty grim and getting off the coaches car park is a bloody nightmare but I love the fact the whole town debarks en mass, all wearing cherry and white to cheer their team.

It was nice to stand on Wembley way pre match and being able to enjoy a pint with no fuss from the police. Shirts of every club possibly were being worn and absolutely no trouble was being caused. It makes you proud to follow this sport of Rugby League. This wasn't my first trip to Wembley. I'd been to the cup final the previous year when Warrington beat Leeds but nothing beats your own team playing in it.

After a rousing rendition of "Abide by Me" and the National Anthem by Rhydian Roberts. It was time for the match to get underway. Wigan received the kick off and found an early break with Brett Finch sending Ryan Hoffman clear on the fourth tackle. Brent Webb did well to halt Hoffman before his team-mates just about managed to defend a good last tackle kick to the right corner.

Leeds didn't get far on their first possession and it was clear Wigan were settling the better. Our second possession was helped by receiving a penalty and a scrum following an attempted interception knock on from Ben Jones-Bishop. Sam Tomkins went close to dancing over from close range but the last tackle kick proved disappointing.

Six minutes had now passed and Leeds had done well with a kick that pinned Sam Tomkins close to his own posts but Wigan were making excellent metres in the forwards. Leeds were struggling and this was shown when good last tackle pressure from Harrison Hansen forced Danny McGuire to kick out on the full.

This gave Wigan the ball in the Leeds half and the territory domination they had enjoyed, just had to turn into points on 9 minutes. Good hands saw Wigan swing the ball from right to left with Finch, Leuluai, Sam Tomkins, Joel Tomkins all involved to send Josh Charnley over for the score. The effort took some scoring but Baby Josh beautifully stepped inside to beat McGuire. Pat Richards couldn't convert off the touchline but Wigan were happy with a deserved 4-0 lead.

Next attack saw Wigan break clear again. Finch was again the architect with a half break to send O'Loughlin away before he found Sam. Leeds again scrambled back but a couple of tackles later Wigan had a "back to one" just ten metres out. On the last, a kick from Finch was perfect for Pat but Jones-Bishop did well to force him to knock on. A stat on the BBC coverage shows Wigan held 78% to 22% possession swing at this point - that showed how much they had dominated.

However Leeds got their first attack on 15 minutes with their first penalty of the match helping them past half way for the first time in the contest. Both McGuire and Jamie Jones-Buchanan went close but Jeff Lima did well to defend a close range grubber from Sinfield.

Wigan's dominance continued to be evident though. A good hit from Tommy on Webb forced a knock on and that kind of defence by Tommy was being backed up by his team mates. Leeds were struggling to move anywhere in attack. A blow was soon suffered though by Wigan with Lee Mossop leaving the field with a shoulder injury on 20 minutes. He'd not long been on the field off the bench! Charnley had earlier dislocated a finger as well, but that was never going to force him off the field.

Leeds were doing well to hang in at just 4-0 but Michael Maguire's side is a very patient one. They know that just doing the basics will bring reward and two tries in a four minute spell gave Wigan the reward on the scoreline that their territorial domination deserved.

Brent Webb played a big part in the first score with a poor knock on ten metres from his own line, after a huge spiral bomb from Sam Tomkins. On just the second tackle, Lima was sent over from close range off a pass from Paul Prescott. Easy conversion for Pat made it 10-0.

Then on 27 minutes came a wonder try that arguably matched, or bettered, that well remembered effort of Martin Offiah in the 1994 Cup Final against Leeds. Sam Tomkins collected a kick 10 metres from the line and he sent brother Joel racing down the right wing. He shrugged off McGuire and he was all of sudden faced with just Jamie Peacock and Webb to beat. It looked like he didn't have a chance but his footwork mugged the pair of them and he ended up going over under the sticks. Absolute class effort and an easy conversion for Pat made it 16-0.

An error on the restart from Hansen gave Leeds some hope but Ben Jones-Bishop was quickly ganged tackled into touch by Richards, Finch, Carmont and Hoffman. You couldn't help thinking that this was turning into the most one sided final of all time. Wigan were so on top and Leeds looked clueless to find an answer. No one though would have foreseen the six minutes before half time. In that period Leeds scored two back to back tries to give the half time score a very flattering look.

Leeds needed help to get close to our line, and got it with a "back to one" just inside our half. A penalty soon followed and they punished when Carl Ablett sent Ryan Hall over in the left corner. Sinfield couldn't covert but I'm not sure they cared at that point. They must have been relieved to have got anything out of their first half show.

On that basis, relief must have turned to delirium when they scored again on 37 minutes. Classy try this one. Jones-Buchanan broke down the left but although Wigan scrambled back, Jones-Bishop was soon over in the right corner. Not good Wigan defence but take nothing away from Leeds on that one. Sinfield converted off the touchline and in just two and a half minutes, 16-0 total dominance had become 16-10 and well and truly game on!

Wigan fans at half time were all gutted. I'm sure we'd have all snapped up a 16-10 half time lead if offered to us at kick off, but in these circumstances it was a hell of a bitter pill to swallow. A match that had been comfortable to watch was now evil to watch and a very nervous experience. That torture would string out for the whole of the second half.

The match was now a far more even contest but with the possession being bogged down mainly in midfield. First try of the second half was always going to be a big score but with chances proving very limited, it took a gruelling 18 minutes to come. Sadly the try went to Leeds.

An error from Ryan Hoffman in his own quarter set up the territory and Ablett took advantage of some weak defence from Joel Tomkins to score down the left. Crucially Sinfield couldn't convert, so Wigan still led 16-14. You couldn't help thinking though that this game was slipping away from us, but a quick response would prove vital to the end result.

Total luck in the response as well, which came on 61 minutes. Good defence from Wigan had forced Leeds into a poor kick that gave us possession in their half. Seconds later, Lee Mossop, back on the pitch despite the dislocated shoulder, sent Jeff Lima sliding over from the close range, close to the posts. The luck? Well it was a clear forward pass but the referee and touch judges all missed it. A much needed massive stroke a luck, and a conversion from Pat gave Wigan a two score lead again at 22-14.

Leeds had it all to do again but they were not giving up. They were soon back on the attack following that try but good defence out on the left saw Carmont and Richards combine to get Jones-Bishop into touch.

10 minutes now remained but the time was ticking down so slowly for us Wigan fans. It was pure evil, and it became worse when Leeds scored again on 72 minutes. A high tackle by Liam Farrell, on Rob Burrow, gave Leeds the territory and they punished with Ryan Hall claiming his second after being sent in the left corner by McGuire. Try was given after video referee adjudication, but Sinfield again failed to convert off the touchline. Leeds fans may have arguments over that previous Lima try being forward, but this game was now 4 tries apiece and it was the missed kicks from "Sir Kev" that kept them behind on the scoreboard.

8 minutes now to go and to be honest you could only see Leeds going on to win the game. If they would have got ahead on the scoreboard at any point, it would have been curtains for Wigan I think. They went mighty close when Jones-Bishop beat Richards for pace down left. He hacked on and it was Sam Tomkins chasing down the loose ball with three Leeds players on his back. The ball was perfectly sitting up in the in goal but Danny McGuire just couldn't touch it down, Sam just did enough in defence. Ooooh, that is pure sport at it's best! A bugs dick between delight and despair for both sets of supporters.

Down to 5 minutes to go and thankfully Wigan had the ball deep in the Leeds half. A good kick from Deacon was tempting Charnley to score a match winner but Ryan Hall did well to diffuse in goal. That gave Leeds a tap twenty and they marched to within twenty of the Wigan posts. McGuire's kick was flapped at by Sam but Chris Clarkson knocked on a metre from scoring.

4 minutes to go and the tension is unbearable. Can we hang on? That's exactly what we were doing but another crucial decision would go our way. A kick from Finch was heading into touch and the officials adjudged that it came off Rob Burrow when replays suggested Charnley had the last play. Did any Wigan fan care? They didn't have time to care because soon after the scrum, Leuluai darted over from ten metres out to win the cup for Wigan! Or has he? The decision was handed on to video ref Steve Ganson because it's possible that Tommy had knocked on in scoring. Tough call and it took a hellishly long 130 seconds for him to decide but Tommy was given the try by benefit of the doubt. Oh, such relief but the party could now begin - Wigan had won their 18th Challenge Cup. Pat converted to make it 28-18.

When the match restarted just 1 minute remained and that was never enough time for Leeds to score try. The tannoy announced Jeff Lima as Lance Todd Trophy winner - the first prop to win the award since Bob Lockwood for Hull KR in 1980.

No doubt Leeds fan will point to those two crucial decisions that went against them. They were  vital to our success in the end but for me, Wigan deserved this cup triumph for their efforts in the first 34 minutes. That's the period of the game when we won it. Like I said, I think half time flattered Leeds on the scoreboard.

Sean O'Loughlin followed in the footsteps of his brother-in-law Andy Farrell to lift the massive old trophy. This had been a huge effort. Not just in winning the final against Leeds but also the previous rounds in which we saw off Bradford, Warrington and St Helens, with not one of those of those ties coming at home. I don't think you can draw a tougher cup run than that, so the boys should be mightily proud of this success.

08mins:56 Leeds 00 Wigan 04 Try: Josh Charnley
- Leeds 00 Wigan 04

P.Richards Missed Conversion (0/1)

23mins:57 Leeds 00 Wigan 08 Try: Jeff Lima
- Leeds 00 Wigan 10

Conversion: Pat Richards (1/2)

27mins:29 Leeds 00 Wigan 14 Try: Joel Tomkins
- Leeds 00 Wigan 16

Conversion: Pat Richards (2/3)

34mins:25 Leeds 04 Wigan 16 Try: Ryan Hall
- Leeds 04 Wigan 16

K.Sinfield Missed Conversion (0/1)

36mins:56 Leeds 08 Wigan 16 Try: Ben Jones-Bishop
- Leeds 10 Wigan 16

Conversion: Kevin Sinfield (1/2)

Half Time Leeds Rhinos 10 Wigan Warriors 16
58mins:34 Leeds 14 Wigan 16 Try: Carl Ablett
- Leeds 14 Wigan 16

K.Sinfield Missed Conversion (1/3)

61mins:55 Leeds 14 Wigan 20 Try: Jeff Lima (2)
- Leeds 14 Wigan 22

Conversion: Pat Richards (3/4)

71mins:02 Leeds 18 Wigan 22 Try: Ryan Hall (2)
- Leeds 18 Wigan 22

K.Sinfield Missed Conversion (1/4)

77mins:29 Leeds 18 Wigan 26 Try: Thomas Leuluai
- Leeds 18 Wigan 28

Conversion: Pat Richards (4/5)

Full Time Leeds Rhinos 18 Wigan Warriors 28

Coach Michael Maguire: "To be here is unbelievable. All the players put their hands up. Leeds threw a lot at us but we withstood the pressure. They are a special bunch, one that will go down in Wigan history. We'll enjoy this and then get ready for Warrington game and get back to it."

(Jeff Lima) been improving week in, week out. I knew what Jeff could do before he got here. He's really playing some great rugby league for us and he's a big part of the character of this group. He was outstanding today, along with all the players. We had some inspirational people staying on the park. Josh Charnley had a bone protruding out of his finger from his first touch of the ball but stayed on the park. Lee Mossop dislocated his shoulder but the medical staff did a great job and got him back out there. It was the same across the whole team. Lockers had a sore hammy but he put his hand up and got back out there again. That's what was needed. There were some anxious moments but this group keeps stepping up for each other. We probably gave up a little bit too much ball in the second half but the boys have a real spirit about them and it paid off."

Captain Sean O'Loughlin: "We started very well but credit to them to come back. We probably didn't play of our best rugby at times but we did what needed to be done and we got the result in the end. (Last year's Grand Final success) was special because it was the first trophy we'd won for a long time but the fact that Wigan have had a proud history of winning the Challenge Cup does make it a lot more special," he said. You're treading in the footsteps of a lot of great players and great teams that have gone before you. As special as the Grand Final is, the history the club has with the Challenge Cup probably made it that little bit more."

Lance Todd Trophy Winner Jeff Lima: "I can't express how I feel. It's overwhelming, it will probably hit me tomorrow. I just go out and do my job. I've been off the radar for a while happy to be in the right place at the right time."

Lee Mossop: "It's the biggest game of my life and I wasn't going to miss that for anything. I said in the weeks building up to this that I owe a lot to my parents and that was going through my mind (when I came back on despite dislocating the shoulder). It was my dad's birthday today and I was making sure I was going back out there for him."

Sam Tomkins: "The hairs on the back of your neck stand up with the noise that the fans made. It was not just Wigan fans, Leeds' fans were loud as well. It's something you'd like to savour. I'll never forget that feeling. There's that magic in the Challenge Cup, it's a bit different to everything else "It's been a goal of ours since the start of last year. We were unfortunate last year when Leeds pipped us in the quarter-final and that hurt. We probably owed Leeds one. There was a lot of talk in the week about the Lance Todd but it's not something I concentrate on and I'm happy Jeff got it. Jeff deserved it more than anyone on the field. I definitely didn't play my best game but, as long as I'm a part of this team, I don't mind. Leeds nullified a lot of what I was doing but, when they were concentrating on me, it created lots of gaps for other people. It's good to hold both trophies but there's a lot of work to do before the end of the year to nail the Grand Final this year as well. We're going to be focused on that - once we sober up, about Thursday! No, we've got a big game coming up this week so we'll have to shift our minds to that pretty quickish. Warrington will be feeling they can get a start on us with us having this big win."

Joel Tomkins: "Sam did a bit of work and got me into some space. I then found myself in a bit of space and I managed to finish it off. It's all a bit of a blur, I thought today it was just an outstanding team effort,.it's all about spirit and our team ethic. They had a purple patch and they came back at us at half time and that shock us up and I think that is when the spirit showed through. We started to look after each other  again and got back to the things we do and we came through with our structures and our defence. We have a mentality when somebody crosses our line we make a massive effort to make sure it doesn't happen again, it's no co-incidence that we have the ability to win close games. Living in Wigan and being brought up in Wigan, you know how big it is for the Wigan fans to come to Wembley. To come back here after 13 years and win is fantastic."

Leeds coach Brian McDermott: "We gave ourselves too much of a hill to climb, but I'm proud of the lads to get within touching difference. Those refereeing decisions are irrelevant now, I would be wasting my breath. There has been some disrespect shown to some of the lads in there, some of the lads who have been around and done some things, by the media and I'm proud that they have given Wigan a real scare."


Phil Bentham




If match had been drawn after 80 minutes it would have gone to a replay at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United FC on Wednesday 7th September (Kick Off 7:30pm) and shown live on BBC TWO.

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