All eyes turn to Wembley this weekend, as Wigan Warriors and Hull F.C. face off in what promises to be a terrific, hard-fought Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final.
Wigan are the most successful club in the competition’s history, but the Airlie Birds are current holders. Something’s got to give, but what?
Here are the major talking points ahead of Saturday’s showpiece…
Comeback kids Wigan refuse to be beaten
The Warriors recovered a half-time deficit to go on and beat Salford Red Devils 27-14 in their Semi-Final tie, nilling Ian Watson’s side after the interval. But that imperious comeback will have surprised precisely no-one among the Warriors support.
Throughout this year, Shaun Wane’s side have turned the tables in games where they’ve trailed. Away to Warrington Wolves, they trailed by 10 points midway through the second half, before grabbing victory.
It’s been a consistent theme. A 32-10 victory in Perpignan arrived via a stunning comeback. An early concession to Huddersfield Giants earlier this month was followed by an outstanding turnaround, with the Warriors ahead by the interval.
Write them off at your peril…
Will Huddersfield hammering destabilise Hull?
The Airlie Birds had recovered from a three-game losing streak with four wins on the trot heading into Sunday’s meeting with Huddersfield Giants. But a comprehensive 46-18 home defeat at the hands of Rick Stone’s side has again asked questions of this Hull side.
While they’ve been clinical at times this season, this was far from the first wobbly display from the 2016 Challenge Cup winners. The question is, how will they react?
The stats don’t make for kind reading, unless you’re a Wigan fan. Every time in the last five months that Hull have seen their winning run end, they’ve also gone on to lose the following game. And they’ll need to be at the absolute top of their game to break that unwanted record here.
Will it be recent pedigree or long-term history that triumphs?
Despite their weekend wobble, many will fancy Hull on the basis that they triumphed at Wembley with much the same squad in last year’s Challenge Cup Final, ousting Warrington Wolves.
As for Wigan, they’ve got a long history of triumphing in this fixture. The Cherry and Whites have lifted this trophy a record 19 times, winning 12 of their previous 14 Final appearances – most recently in 2013, when they beat…Hull F.C.
Whether Wigan’s proud Challenge Cup dominance or Hull’s terrific recent triumph bears more impact in this fixture is up for debate, but record winners v. current holders certainly promises to be a thrilling fixture.
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