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The eagerly anticipated Betfred Challenge Cup Final saw St Helens and the Castleford Tigers meet for the very first time in the showpiece final as the two sides ran out into a crowded and sweltering Wembley for what promised to be a fascinating match.

There is currently a gulf between the two sides in league position with the Tigers having had a torrid time in recent weeks with some awful results while Saints haven’t lost for a month and have a recent 24-0 over their opponents tucked under their belt.

But this is Wembley, and this is the Challenge Cup Final, and it usually throws up surprises and shocks despite St Helens being massive favourites for the win.

Castleford had to defend hard early on after conceding a penalty, a set restart, and a knock-on to a rampaging St Helens. It took ten minutes for Saints to snatch the lead and it also required a bit of good fortune when a Jonny Lomax grubber kick rebounded off the post pad and into the hands of Theo Fages to slide in for the four-pointer.  Lachlan Coote added the conversion from in front of the sticks.

Against the run of play the Tigers equalised with Niall Evalds being on hand to collect a Peter Mata’utia grubber kick and run in by the sticks in a move which was started around the half-way line. Gareth O’Brien added the conversion to level things up at 6-6.

On twenty-four minutes the Tigers hit the front as Jake Trueman collected a high O’Brien kick under the stick and take two strides to score under the sticks. O’Brien added the kick for a 12-6 lead, with even the most dedicated Tigers fan having to admit it was totally against the run of play.

Taking the lead gave the Tigers a real belief and it was they who ended the half on the attack to take a six-point lead into the interval.

Joe Batchelor lasted twenty-five seconds of the second half before going into the tackle badly and coming off for a head impact assessment but within a minute James Roby was on hand to take the pass after a high kick to the corner was batted back by Regan Grace.  Coote added the extras and the two sides were back level at 12-12 on forty-three minutes.

Saints were back in the lead on fifty after a flying Tommy Makinson found space down the right wing to sprint the last ten metres and then launch himself for the line to ground. Coote couldn’t add the touchline conversion, the Saints with just a four-point lead.

Roby knocked on a kick through on fifty-seven, fifteen out from his own sticks but brilliant Saints defence kept the Tigers out.

A Mata’utia obstruction was spotted by the referee and Coote took the opportunity to extend the lead to six points on sixty-five, the cup within Saints grasp. When the Tigers were given offside on seventy, Coote kicked another two-pointer for 20-12, the engraver was starting his afternoons work.

The icing of the cake came in the seventy-eighth minute when Kyle Amor crashed the line and grounded under the uprights after palming off the challenges of three Castleford tacklers. Coote added the conversion to seal a 26-12 win, the Saints scoring twenty unanswered second half points.

This was not a classic St Helens performance as Castleford made them grind out every point. They also got the rub of the green with some of the refereeing decision, but few would argue that that they weren’t the best team on the afternoon and deserving of their first Challenge Cup final win since 2008. Castleford have now gone thirty-five years without lifting the cup as their wait goes on after today's heartbreak.

St Helens:  Coote (5G), Makinson (T), Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages (T), Walmsley, Roby (T), McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Batchelor, Knowles. Subs: Amor (T), Paasi, Welsby, Lee.

Castleford Tigers: Evalds (T), Turner, Shenton, Mata’utia, Olpherts, Trueman (T), O’Brien (2G), Millington, McShane, Griffin, Holmes, Sene-Lefao, Massey. Subs: Watts, Milner, Foster, Smith.

Half-Time: 6-12.

Full-Time: 26-12.

Referee: Liam Moore.

Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, 6-10, 6-12 : HT : 10-12, 12-12, 16-12, 18-12, 20-12, 24-12, 26-12 : FT.




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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 17th Jul 2021 5:10 PM | Views : 5808 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES
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Penrith 24 640 280 360 42
Souths 24 775 453 322 40
Manly 24 744 492 252 32
Sydney 24 636 475 161 32
Parramatta 24 566 457 109 30
Newcastle 24 428 571 -143 24
Gold Coast 24 568 553 15 20
 
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Canberra 24 481 578 -97 20
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NZ Warriors 24 453 624 -171 16
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This is an inplay table and positions can change as matches are in play.
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St.Helens 21 548 229 319 32 239.30 76.19
Warrington 21 588 354 234 31 166.10 73.81
Wigan 25 387 385 2 30 100.52 60
Leeds 24 556 440 116 26 126.36 54.17
Hull KR 20 497 458 39 20 108.52 50
 
Castleford 23 439 552 -113 22 79.53 47.83
Hull FC 21 409 476 -67 17 85.92 40.48
Huddersfield 24 460 516 -56 18 89.15 37.50
Wakefield 24 482 548 -66 18 87.96 37.50
Salford 22 402 586 -184 14 68.60 31.82
Leigh 22 356 870 -514 4 40.92 9.09
This is an inplay table and positions can change as matches are in play.
Betfred Championship 2021 ROUND : 20
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Toulouse 13 616 112 504 26 550 100
Featherstone 19 817 254 563 34 321.65 94.74
Halifax 19 512 323 189 26 158.51 68.42
Bradford 18 483 455 28 24 106.15 66.67
LondonB 18 504 499 5 21 101 63.89
Batley 19 525 370 155 24 141.89 63.16
 
Whitehaven 20 447 496 -49 21 90.12 52.50
York 19 470 455 15 16 103.30 42.11
Widnes 19 458 509 -51 15 89.98 39.47
Newcastle 18 381 521 -140 13 73.13 36.11
Sheffield 18 382 553 -171 13 69.08 36.11
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Workington 15 471 310 161 21 151.94 70
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Crusaders 18 553 438 115 22 126.26 61.11
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Rochdale 17 505 488 17 17 103.48 50
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West Wales 18 208 896 -688 1 23.21 2.78
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St.HelensW 7 370 36 334 12 1,027.78 85.71
WiganW 6 222 64 158 10 346.88 83.33
YorkW 6 186 102 84 8 182.35 66.67
CastlefordW 6 166 96 70 8 172.92 66.67
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Hudds W 7 104 288 -184 4 36.11 28.57
 
Wire W 8 150 334 -184 4 44.91 25
FeatherstoneW 8 122 338 -216 4 36.09 25
LeedsW 7 364 38 326 14 957.89 100
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