Warrington v St Helens Challenge Cup Final Preview
The final of the 2019 Rugby League Coral Challenge Cup will be played on Saturday 24 August with the action set for a 3.00pm kick-off. Armchair fans will be delighted to learn the play will be shown live on BBC and that’s a real treat for terrestrial TV viewers. Let’s hope both sets of players do their bit to ensure this one lives up to the hype.
Wembley Stadium plays host and the home of English football will be packed to capacity for the biggest match of the year on the Rugby League calendar. The shape of ball and rules may change from what regulars at the London venue are used to but there will be no drop in the levels of excitement and drama.
Super League Fans Love the Challenge Cup
This year’s outing will be the 118th renewal of the world-famous Challenge Cup, a competition which throws together the best from the Super League, British National Leagues and adds a few invited amateur clubs. It’s known as the number one knockout cup competition in Rugby League for British teams and it’s a format fans love, supporters flocking to the various UK stadiums or tuning into the live TV coverage.
The format of this tournament is beautiful in its simplicity. Teams go through six knockout rounds before we get into the quarter-finals, semi-finals and then the final. There can be no room for error, teams suffering an off day often finding themselves eliminated, no questions asked. It’s an unforgiving cup competition and that’s one of the reasons Rugby League purists can’t seem to get enough of the Challenge Cup.
Those who attend the final are treated to one of the best days of sport of the year with no less than three Rugby League matches played back-to-back at the same venue. Get there early for the undercard and you’ll be spoiled by the occasion. The Steven Mullaney Memorial Match gets the day started and that’s followed by the 1985 Cup. When those two fixtures are played to a conclusion it’s then time for the main event – the Challenge Cup final and that’s the one the paying public all want to see. Many supporters turn up only for the top of the bill show but it’s encouraging to see more and more fans are getting in early to view the other two matches and make a day of it.
Stats Show Wigan top the Charts
A flick through the history books of this tournament show Wigan rank as the most successful Challenge Cup side, having won the title no less than 19 times, six more than their nearest rivals. They have played in a breath-taking 32 finals over the years but, despite their success, we’ve not seen Wolves end on the top step since 2013. That’s a bit of a drought for those loyal to the cause and a band of supporters who have become used to winning titles. Wolves last reached the final in 2017 but ended as runners up on that occasion.
Leeds stand as the Challenge Cup’s second most successful team with a tally showing 13 wins and a dozen silver medals. They last finished best of the rest in 2012 but have enjoyed more recent glory, kissing the silverware as recently as 2015 when blazing a trail of glory to the prize. Having appeared in 25 titles over the years, they have some way to go to match up with Wolves, but they have been closing the gap and are four ahead of third place.
St Helens make up the major places in third spot, having contested 21 finals. They may be one of the biggest names in Rugby League, but St Helens haven’t grabbed this prize since way back in 2008 and that’s a source of embarrassment for everyone connected to the club. They went close in 2002 when last finishing as runners up but over a decade without reaching the final has left some fans upset, to say the least. St Helens are a club who should be battling in the latter stages of every competition they enter and getting back into the mix of the Challenge Cup is a must over the course of the next couple of years.
Dragons Make History
Last year’s Challenge Cup final was a fascinating one and an important one for the history books of this competition. 2018 gave us the first non-British Rugby League club to win the Challenge Cup when Catalan Dragons scored the prize. The history-makers beat Warrington Wolves at Wembley on 25 August by a score of 20-14 in front of a bumper audience and it’s a game that will be remembered for some time to come.
It was a double swoop for the Catalan Dragons that year as star player Tony Gigot was announced winner of the Lance Todd Trophy and, in doing so, he was the first Frenchman to scoop the prize since it first appeared in 1946. That’s certainly a major achievement but we’re certain the talented full-back won’t be the last from his nation to have his talents recognised on the big stage. The Dragons winning the title certainly helped his chances but there was no doubting he fully deserved the recognition after putting in some jaw-dropping performances.
Dragons were back in the mix this year as they chased down what would be a stunning two Challenge Cup titles in-a-row, but it wasn’t to be. Last year’s champions fell short, finding themselves eliminated at the quarter-final stage by a rampant Hull FC who battered their opponents on route to a stunning 51-8 final score. It was a fall from grace for the Dragons, but no side can take away their slice of history and they’ll be back for more. Despite recording that win over the defending champions, Hull FC was eliminated at the semi-finals stage by Warrington Wolves after ending on the wrong side of a 22-14 scoreline.
Have Your Say on This Year’s Final
With the scene set, we now turn our attention to this year’s final and re delighted to report bookmakers have rolled out the red carpet to treat Rugby League enthusiasts and punters to an afternoon of betting. If you’re a lover of all things Rugby League and Challenge Cup you can use your knowledge to back a winner by beating the bookies. If you are little more than a casual sports fan but plan on watching the final, the betting coverage means you can spice up the occasion with a financial interest. This match will be entertaining, but not quite as entertaining as it will be with a winning bet behind you.
Have your say on dozens of markets covering the final, including match winner, handicaps, first try scorer, half time/full time, anytime try scorer, draw no bet, to score a hattrick, winning margin, man of the match, double chance, team to score first, drop goal, to win to nil, highest scoring half, and lots more besides. Many of the best pre-match markets remain live throughout the course of the game thanks to in-play betting, meaning you can get involved at any stage of the contest. A bet on the Challenge Cup is as exciting in the final few minutes as it was before kick-off.
In-play betting works fantastically well with live sport and, indeed, Rugby League. It’s a fast and furious game and the in-play betting is equally as fascinating. The prices move quickly, so too much the punters. If you follow the live coverage closely enough, you’ll often spot a trend or pattern emerging. It’s then on you to act quickly and get your money down before the traders can shorten the price. In-play betting is not only a battle of wits and sporting knowledge, but it’s also a shoot-out between punter and trader, fastest finger wins the cash.
St Helens Nailed on Favourites with the Bookies
The pre-match betting for this year’s Challenge Cup final makes for very interesting reading indeed. The money men have been quick to throw the weight of their support behind St Helens and all major firms price them as favourites to win the title inside regulation time. Ladbrokes sponsored this event last year before handing the reigns over to their sister company Coral but it’s the former who has been most generous in the pre-match betting. Ladbrokes price St Helens at 2/5 to win the match. That may strike you as a little tight in what is sure to be a competitive contest, but the quote is better than you’ll get elsewhere, most firms sitting around the 1/3 mark.
That means the value appears to be on Warrington Wolves and there will be no lack of interest in the underdogs putting the bite on their favourites and coming out on top. The current betting has Wolves marked up as 9/4 second-favourites and you’ll find that price available at a number of major online bookmakers, including bet365. We wouldn’t be surprised to see value hunters play that one for an interest before sitting back and watching the match play out. Those keen on supporting St Helens will be more likely to add their selections to accumulators, due to the short price. Can’t split them? The draw is there to be shot at with as much as 30/1 offered.
Looking through the specials betting markets and if you do fancy the traders to call this one spot on you can aim for a bigger price and back St Helens on the handicap. There you will find Ladbrokes offering 10/11 on St Helens -8 points and that looks to be a competitive line that will give backers every chance of getting a run for their money. Warrington with an eight points start is 11/10 and that’s market best price at Betfair, most other firms going even money or even 10/11.
There’s Value to be Had on Wolves Handicap
The latter is worth taking note of and it looks a worthwhile investment, if only for the difference in price. Warrington Wolves are a good side who are here on merit and will be confident they have what it takes to spoil the party and upset the odds. Giving them an eight points start is generous and, even if they don’t win the match, they are more than good enough to stay within that bracket. It’s also worth backing as there’s real value to be had. Invest your cash in enough 10/11 shots priced at 11/10 and you’ll make a profit from your sports gambling over the course of the year, that much is obvious. Betfair has been particularly generous with that call and we believe that should be taken advantage of on the big stage.
Playing the first try-scorer market gives a chance at landing bigger odds. The current betting has Tommy Makinson as favourite to score the opening try of the day and Betfair are offering a market best price of 9/1. That has him level with Regan Grace before Kevin Naiqama comes in at 10/1.