Well I've been lucky to do quite a few finals with my town but this
was one of the weirdest I've ever experienced.
It was an awful final, lets make no bones about that, but I have
never seen a team freeze on the big occasion like Hull FC did on
They completely no showed and were well beaten by a Wigan side
that barely produced anything other than hard work to get the easy
Now the weather was poor to be fair. Rain bouncing back up off
the tarmac was what greeted us at Wembley and that contributed to
the spectacle we witnessed. Stephen Wild and Jermaine McGillvary
meanwhile being the latest players to come out in condemnation of
the "Rhino" branded ball being hard to grip during the match on
Wigan though played those conditions perfectly. It was boring to
watch at times but 78% was a great completion rate in that weather.
Up the middle of the park we totally controlled the Black and
A superb kicking game from Matty Smith kept turning them round
constantly, and rightly rewarded with the Lance Todd Trophy, whilst
the pack and defensive effort ensured that Hull FC were going to
have produced some class to win this game.
Once Wigan claimed the games first try through Iain Thornley in
the 21st Minute, the match never looked in doubt. Ben Crooks shot
out of the defensive line and that left the gap for Thornley to
crash over in the left corner.
Those who regularly listen to my match summarising on Wish FM
will know I've been critical of his defence during this season,
justified I think by the fact he was substituted in two matches
this season and then dropped, but he was excellent in this final in
defence. Very strong and I think he rightly got the nod over
Anthony Gelling for the left centre spot.
After Pat converted from the touchline for 6-0 the game, Wigan
were barely forced to sweat on the result. In fact my only
complaint was that it was ONLY 6-0, then 8-0 then 10-0 as Wigan
added two penalty goals over time.
The only real danger came from a Jamie Shaul break in the 49th
minute. Returning a kick he raced 80 metres up the field but Sean
O'Loughlin forced him into the path of Josh Charnley who produced a
wonder tackle to force an error. The score was 8-0 at that point
and had Hull scored that it would have been a very tense and nervy
finish but they didn't really get another opportunity and that
contributed to the weirdness I mentioned. It left the atmosphere
dead with most in the ground appreciating that a two score lead was
a massive one the way the game was playing out.
Personally I don't even recall sweating on the time remaining.
Had Hull scored it would have been a different story but they
didn't and Wigan completed the triumph with a last minute try by
Sam Tomkins that completed a 16-0 victory.
That was the 11th time a side has been held to nil in a
Challenge Cup Final but only the fifth achieved in a final at
Wembley. The past three have all being achieved by Wigan with this
nilling adding to the famous one against St Helens in 1989 and the
one against Barrow in 1951.
After the Huddersfield match I wrote
an article about how important this result was for the club
going forward and the morale of the support base. I still hold that
view. Losing this would have been horrendous for us. But the win
allows some positivity to get around the DW and hopefully this will
allow us to have a really strong end of to the season. I'd still
question whether we ultimately have the quality to win the Grand
Final, but I want to see us have a damn good crack and go if we go
down, we've done so giving our all. I'm not sure we could entirely
say that last season.
At the end of the day though, winning one of the two major
trophies is what the goal is at the start of each season and Wigan
have done that. The double may not seem likely to those who have
witnessed recent league performances but with the amount of success
within the borough this year, you cannot write it off!