Rugby League Challenge Cup Final Tips

St Helens vs. Warrington Wolves
Saturday August 24, 15:00 BST
Live on BBC One

St Helens have dominated the sport in 2019 from the first whistle and should be far too strong for Warrington Wolves in Saturday's Wembley showpiece.

Treble dream a reality for Holbrook

The teams sit first and second in the Super League table but St Helens lead the way with a huge 16-points difference and are showing no signs of faltering as they bid for a first treble since 2006 to give departing coach Justin Holbrook the perfect send-off having secured the League Leaders' Shield with over a month to spare.

Holbrook, who leaves for the NRL and Gold Coast Titans at the end of the season, has been a revelation in his time on Merseyside and has won a phenomenal 49 of his last 56 games in charge of the men in the red vee. The big blots on his record come in the form of semi-final defeats last season to Warrington in the league and to the eventual winners Catalans in the Challenge Cup but it's just 11/8 that both those wrongs are put right in the next seven weeks and they are 3/1-on in their first appearance at Wembley since 2008 having seen off Huddersfield, Wakefield and Halifax in the previous rounds.

Prop Matty Lees is the only confirmed absentee for Saints and top-scorer Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Alex Walmsley and James Roby are among those set to be back in the starting thirteen having missed last week's clinical 36-20 win at Leeds. Captain Roby is bidding to make it four wins from four appearances in the final after lifting the famous trophy three years on the bounce from 2006.

Warrington Wolves coach Steve Price.jpg

Slack Wire must return to their best

The new Wembley Stadium has become a bit of a second home for Warrington Wolves and this will be the sixth time since 2009 that Wire have reached the Challenge Cup Final. They've been the losing side on their last two visits, going down 20-14 to Catalans Dragons twelve months ago, and need to recapture their early-season form after a shocking run if their name is to go on the Cup for a ninth time.

Their 22-14 semi-final victory over Hull FC is their only win in their last six matches and St Helens have seen them off three times already this year. They've gone through this before though, and while James Roby remarkably is the only Saints player to have previous Wembley experience, Warrington have a whopping 15 players in their ranks who have featured in Challenge Cup Finals, with the mighty forward Ben Westwood set for his sixth and final appearance before retiring.

Coach Steve Price (pictured above) has had injury problems in the build-up and has left talisman Blake Austin out of his 19-man squad. The loss of the half-back is a huge blow as he's lit up the game this year and is currently joint-top in the Man of Steel standings. Winger Josh Charnley, a scorer for Wigan in their 2011 win, and Co-captain Jack Hughes are set to return.

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook.jpg

Jollies look solid

Favourite backers had their fingers burnt last year as the Wolves slumped to defeat. Just as they did in 2016 they recovered to reach the Grand Final only to fall short and have lost their last four domestic Finals.
They are the side getting the start on the handicap this time, one of ten points on the Sportsbook, which has increased from eight earlier in the week.

Recent finals have produced fairly-close scorelines, the winning margins in the last three years being two, four, and six.
Prior to that though you have to go back to 2005 and Cardiff for the last match to be settled within a converted try and St Helens posted big scores for their three subsequent wins.
This is the first meeting between the sides in the Challenge Cup Final and everything we've seen this year points to Justin Holbrook (pictured above) getting his hands on the trophy he deserves. Back St Helens to cover the handicap.




This post first appeared here

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