The 2017 Rugby League Challenge Cup Finalists – Their Journey to Wembley

It’s Challenge Cup final time again, and last year’s winners, Hull F.C., will be seeking to defend their title from Wigan Warriors, the team that’s racked up the most wins in the cup’s history. So, how did each team secure their place in Saturday’s final?

The Challenge Cup – Will it be Back-to-Back Victories for Hull F.C?

When Hull F.C.’s rugby league stars walk into Wembley Stadium on Saturday, they’ll be hoping for a repeat of last year’s Challenge Cup Final result. However, they’ll probably also be aiming to get off to a better start this time. An hour into the 2016 final, Warrington Wolves were leading by 10-0, However, Hull fought back to win the tie by 12-10 and claim the impressive-looking rugby trophy in the process. 

This year, Hull entered the fray in the competition’s sixth round. They began their cup campaign in style by defeating the Catalans Dragons by 62-0 at the KCOM Stadium. The Dragons’ coach, Laurent Frayssinous, offered no excuses for their thumping loss. 

“It was men against boy,” he told the BBC. “Defensively and offensively, they were way too good for us. It’s as simple as that.”

The Black and Whites went on to end Castleford Tigers’ silverware-winning dreams by defeating them in the quarter-finals by 32-24. Hull then met Leeds Rhinos at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, beating them by 43-24 to secure a place in the final. 

Although the Black and Whites are lying in third position in the Super 8s, they suffered a significant home defeat against the Huddersfield Giants last weekend. The squad has also been dogged by injury this season, although earlier this month, their head coach, Lee Radford, claimed that this could work out in their favour.

“Danny Houghton missed nine games, Liam Watts has been suspended, Scott Taylor was sidelined and Gareth Ellis obviously had around three months out,” he told the Hull Daily Mail. “So hopefully they are mentally fresh as well as physically fresh for what’s to come. Hopefully that will serve us well.” 

Rugby League – Can the Warriors Secure Their Twentieth Tournament Win?

Wigan Warriors have won the Challenge Cup nineteen times, so although they haven’t held the title since 2013, they know what’s required in order to triumph. In fact, Saturday’s tie is a rematch of the 2013 final, in which the Warriors trounced the Black and Whites by 16-0.

The Warriors also entered the 2017 cup competition in the sixth round. Their first opponents were the Swinton Lions, who they defeated by 42-12, in what turned out to be a relatively straightforward win at the Sale Sharks’ home ground, Heywood Road.

They were drawn against last year’s losing finalists, Warrington Wolves, in the quarter finals of the competition. They dispatched them by 27 – 26 after a hard-fought match in front of the Wolves’ home crowd. Wigan then returned to the Halliwell Jones Stadium for their semi-final. They defeated the Salford Red Devils by 27-14 in a thrilling tie, moving one step closer to a trophy win.

Wigan’s coach, Shaun Wane, was cautious but upbeat following their semi-final victory. “We’ll need to improve ahead of the final,” he told the Guardian. “On our day, though, we can challenge anyone.”

Will you be backing Hull F.C or Wigan Warriors on Saturday? Which team do you think will seize the Challenge Cup at Wembley this year? Share your opinions by adding a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

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