Warrington Wolves and St Helens prepare to duke it out at Wembley Stadium for one of sport’s most famous trophies
Coral Challenge Cup Final, Saturday 24 August, 2pm, BBC One/HD (CH 101/108)
It’s more than 120 years old and is known for its gritty drama. No, we’re not talking about Corrie. We’re talking about the Challenge Cup, rugby league’s most historic and prestigious competition.
This year’s final at Wembley Stadium has the makings of a true classic, as Warrington Wolves and St Helens meet for the first time ever at this stage of the tournament. These are two clubs that are bang in form this season, and they’re more than ready to fight it out for ultimate glory.
Eight-time winners Warrington will be desperate to make amends for their last two final appearances, with defeats coming to Hull FC in 2016 and Catalans Dragons 12 months ago (above). For 12-time winners Wigan, it’s all about lifting the Cup for the first time since 2008 and re-establishing themselves as the best of the best.
With such a rich history, the Challenge Cup has produced more than its fair share of incredible finals down the years. From major shocks and high-scoring thrillers to the heroes and villains who have left their mark, here are five of the most memorable contests ever seen…
1. Don Fox’s astonishing miss (1968)
The 1968 final between Leeds and Wakefield will be remembered for two things: a waterlogged Wembley pitch and arguably the most infamous missed kick in the sport’s history. With Leeds 11-10 up in the last minute, Wakefield’s Don Fox somehow screwed a simple conversion wide of the posts to hand Leeds the victory. Cruel doesn’t even begin to describe it.
2. Wigan win a nail-biter (1985)
The 1980s produced numerous memorable Challenge Cup finals, but Wigan’s 28-24 victory over Hull FC is considered by many to be the greatest of all time. Losing 8-22 at the break, Hull staged a rousing second-half comeback, only for Wigan to see out the nerviest of finales on the biggest of stages.
3. St Helens’ stunning comeback (1996)
The highest-scoring Challenge Cup Final ever, this mid-1990s classic between two fierce foes also holds the record for the most tries scored in a final, at 13. Losing 12-26 with just over 20 minutes left on the clock, the Saints (who were captained by the charismatic Bobbie Goulding) fought back to triumph 40-32 and pip their rivals to the trophy.
4. The Eagles soar at Wembley (1998)
Surely this final between Super League champs Wigan Warriors and midtable strugglers Sheffield Eagles was only going to go one way, right? Wrong. The Eagles pulled off one of the most incredible upsets in the competition’s history, defeating the famous Warriors 17-8 to win the Challenge Cup for the first (and so far only) time in their history.
5. Leeds hammer Hull Kingston Rovers (2015)
Hull Kingston Rovers’ first final appearance since 1986 was a miserable one, as they were thrashed 50-0 by Leeds Rhinos. The result, which was secured in part by five tries from a rampant Tom Briscoe, is the biggest winning margin ever seen in a Challenge Cup final. What’s worse, Rovers’ rivals Hull FC won the following 2018 and 2019 tournaments!
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