Warrington Wolves erased three-decades of Challenge Cup heartache with this devastating domination of the Huddersfield Giants.
A rock-solid contribution by Lance Todd Trophy winning hooker, Michael Monaghan, under-pinned their performance, in a game in which they never trailed.
His efforts outshone those of a subdued Lee Briers, who finally got the cup-winner’s medal he coveted, and satisfied his boyhood dream of booting a Wembley drop goal.
Monaghan was largely responsible for the astute dummy half play that nullified the Giants strength around the ruck. Whilst the Wolves clinical finishing early-on saw them compile a decisive 18-6 lead inside 16 minutes.
A Brett Hodgson touchdown as the end of the first half approached signalled that there was still life but they were unable to translate that into second-half points until it was too late as resolute Wolves defence denied them any momentum.
Video killed the radio star — and it ain’t doing the Giants much good either.
However, Giants’ coach, Nathan Brown, will have been disappointed with his team’s defensive efforts they gifted the Wolves too much space in possession and were unable to exert their muscular ruck defence.
From the moment Brett Hodgon’s intended down town kick was charged down by Louis Anderson you just had the feeling this might not be the Giants’ day.
Despite the suspicion of a knock on as Anderson recovered the ball it took all Hodgson had to chase back and prevent a try. But Richie Mathers finished in style two plays later, slicing through the stunned Huddersfield Giants defence to snatch the opening try of the 2009 Carnegie Challenge Cup Final.
Still, the Giants looked to have hit back quickly with hooker, Shaun Lunt, spinning and stretching out of a tackle to touchdown between the posts. But the video ref (Phil Bentham) ruled otherwise, spotting an otherwise invisible double-movement and awarding the Wolves a penalty.
It didn’t seem to matter moments later, not for a bit anyway. Stephen Wild’s midfield drive sucked in the Wolves defence and his slip pass sent B Hodgson racing clear from half way. The eager Lunt was on hand to finish the move, touching between the posts. B Hodgson converted.
As the end-to-end encounter continued so did the nervous Giants’ errors. This time it was prop, Darrell Griffin, who spilled the ball inside his own 20 and Monaghan slipped over from dummy half. Bridge again goaled.
Chris Hicks continued Wolves early dominance into the second quarter, rounding David Hodgson on the right score fro 10 metres out.
This after V Anderson’s pass used Ben Westwood’s dummy run to pull Whatuira out of position. Hicks conversion opened a 12-point gap.
King’s ball stealing aerobatics almost pinched another for the Wolves but again Bentham ruled it out.
The persistent Giants were again denied by Bentham on 22 minutes for an imaginary offence seen only on video replay. This time Kevin Brown stepped through right centre and sent D Hodgson in at left corner. However, Bentham ruled that the clash of bodies in the build-up constituted obstruction (I assume) and launched a thousand conspiracy theories amongst the claret-and-gold hordes.
Brett Hodgson took Cudjoe’s pass metres from the Wolves line to touchdown at the rigtht corner on 37 minutes though and set up an exciting second half.
After the break the Giants strove to pick up the try the desperately need to get back into the game but were thwarted as much by their own errors as by the Wolves defence.
And as the hour mark ticked by they were once again mustered behind their own goal line; this time for a line drop out. It was a chance to rest tired muscles and aching lungs. A chance to regroup and regather wits.
It was a chance wasted.
The Wolves took the ball on the Giants 40 and pounded it back up the middle, with venom. Vinnie Anderson adding their fourth try after taking Monaghan’s offload to plunge through a gaping hole in the Giants tiring defensive line. Bridge’s conversion extended the lead to 24-10.
The frustration of the Giants was evident in Moore’s petulant piling-on moments later. It gifted Bridge a two-pointer, which he failed to convert.
David Hodgson grabbed a late consolation try for the Giants, with B Hodgson booting the conversion from the touchline.
Briers finally sealed a childhood ambition as time ran out, dropping a goal to seal the 25-16 victory.
Huddersfield Giants: 1 B Hodgson, 21 Cudjoe, 11 Lolesi, 4 Whatuira, 5 D Hodgson, 3 Brown, 7 Robinson, 16 Mason, 24 Lunt, 10 Griffin, 6 Fulton, 13 Wild, 9 Faiumu
Subs: 8 Crabtree, 15 Jackson, 20 Moore, 2 Aspinwall
T: Lunt(9), B Hodgson (37), D Hodgson (75)
G: B Hodgson 2/3
Warrington Wolves: 30 Mathers, 23 Hicks, 25 Bridge, 4 King, 19 Riley, 13 V Anderson, 6 Briers, 16 Carvell, 7 Monaghan, 8 Adrian Morley, 11 L Anderson, 24 Harrison, 12 Ben Westwood
Subs: 18 Cooper, 2 Johnson, 14 Higham, 28 McCarthy
T: Mathers (2), Monaghan (12), Hicks (16), V Anderson (59)
G: Bridge 4/5
D: Briers (78)
2 Mathers try, Hicks goal (1/1) 0-6
9 Lunt try, B Hodgson goal (1/1) 6-6
12 Monaghan try, Hicks goal (2/2) 6-12
16 Hicks try, Hicks goal (3/3) 6-18
37 B Hodgson try, B Hodgson miss (0/2) 10-18
59 V Anderson try, Bridge goal (4/4) 10-24
64 Bridge miss (4/5)
75 D Hodgson try, B Hodgson goal (2/3) 16-24
78 Briers drop goal 16-25
Referee: Steve Ganson
Lance Todd Trophy Winner:
- Michael Monaghan’s game management ensured there was only one choice.
Giants coach, Nathan Brown:
Warrington coach, Tony Smith,