The battle of the halves ended even at Wembley but the young utility sub swung the Challenge Cup final for St Helens
By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required
There were few surprises at Wembley on Saturday. Hugely experienced St Helens, the reigning Super League champions, beat mid-table Castleford; their captain James Roby was magnificent, the 35-year-old hooker overshadowing his supposed England successor Paul McShane; and Cas coach Daryl Powell lost another final. Cas knew they needed to be almost perfect. That, or for Saints to have a very rare shocker. Neither happened.
Instead, we saw a high class duel between half-back pairings and full-back combinations, starring a surprise second-half guest act: Niall Evalds, Jake Trueman and Gareth O’Brien for the Tigers; Lachlan Coote, Jonny Lomax and Theo Fages for Saints before Jack Welsby arrived to steal the show.
Related: St Helens’ Kyle Amor hails Challenge Cup win as ‘final piece of the jigsaw’
Related: St Helens fend off Castleford to take the Challenge Cup
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- Wigan 16-12 Huddersfield
- Hosts overcome 12-point deficit in battle of depleted sides
Few games have epitomised where Super League, not just Wigan Warriors and Huddersfield Giants, finds itself right now better than this one. The very fact both these sides were scrambling to keep their seasons alive and arrest drastically poor form here was symptomatic of the competition’s wider situation.
With more than 20 first-team players – countless internationals among them – missing across both sides here because of injuries, suspensions and Covid-related issues, no game summed up Super League’s problems better as rugby league’s premiere competition fights not only to keep the integrity of the season intact but to get the campaign through to any sort of finish whatsoever this year.
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- St Helens 24-6 Wigan
- Wigan have two players sent to sin-bin
St Helens inflicted a fifth successive Super League defeat on Wigan Warriors for the first time in 15 years with victory in a rain-sodden derby to keep the pressure on league leaders Catalans Dragons.
Wigan had not lost five consecutive league games since 2006, but they continue to slide down the table after a promising start to 2021 which saw them win their opening seven games. Since then, they have exited the Challenge Cup and are in the midst of a terrible run of league form, compounded here with defeat at the home of their great rivals.
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