Challenge Cup final: Hull's bid to make history comes unstuck at Wembley against Wigan

Wigan 16 Hull 0

Wembley

Hull came to Wembley to make history, but it was all of the wrong kind.

Wigan did not need to be anywhere near their best to win one of the most one-sided Challenge Cup finals of the last quarter of a century.

Hull were the first side since St Helens in 1989 to be kept scoreless for 80 minutes. It was the lowest-scoring final since Hull lost 10-5 to Hull KR in 1980.

The talk in the build-up had been of 1985 and the classic these same two clubs served up in the annual showpiece.

“More like 1885,” said someone claiming an even longer memory. For a while, it rained hard enough to evoke comparisons with 1968; it was a little like the infamous Watersplash Final, but without the drama.

It had just two truly memorable moments. The first came at 10-0, when Josh Charnley chased and dispossessed Jamie Shaul, when he was on his way to a long-range try that might have made a match of it.

The second was Sam Tomkins, dancing his way through for a dazzling little try two minutes from time – an isolated moment of pure class.

Rumours were circulating before the match that player and club would use the aftermath of victory to confirm the game’s worst-kept secret – that he is departing for the New Zealand Warriors at the end of the season.

That announcement never came, but that brief vignette of Tomkins at his best was a reminder of how much he will be missed.

The announcement that did come, via the modern notice-board of Twitter, was from the Wigan chairman, Ian Lenagan, backing up his earlier statement that a Cup win would earn Shaun Wane an extra year on his coaching contract.

Wane looked as though he might have preferred to be told – or even asked – personally, but there is now no disputing the success he has made of his dream job of coaching his home-town club.

“It’s credit to the players, for the character they showed in difficult conditions,” he said.

There were no pats on the back for the Hull coach, Peter Gentle. The Humberside rumour mill had it during the build-up to the final that, win, lose or draw, he would be sacked by a fiercely ambitious chairman and owner, Adam Pearson, by the end of the season.

This defeat and the depressing manner of it will stir that pot again, even though Gentle dismissed it all as fantasy. He had no regrets about including young players like Shaul and Ben Crooks, who proved vulnerable, because he had no real alternative.

“They were our best option and I was happy with the young guys,” he said. That leaves the older guys, several of whom will not be happy with their performances.

“The more we turned the ball over the more we panicked,” said Gentle.

That applied to the seasoned professional, Daniel Holdsworth, as much as it did to his halfback partner, Jacob Miller, who celebrated his 21st birthday two days before the final.

By contrast, Wigan had the two most influential players on the soggy field, in their half-backs, Blake Green and Matty Smith. They both had strong kicking games and kept it short and simple when they passed the ball.

Whether the England coach, Steve McNamara, will heed Wigan calls for Smith to be drafted into the World Cup squad is another matter, but he has already made a better fist of playing scrum-half for Wigan than many predicted when he came to the club via Crusaders and Salford.

His was not a performance necessarily to set the pulse racing, but that was true of Wigan as a whole. What they were was highly effective, especially by contrast with opponents who had lost their way.

Given that two such well-supported clubs were at Wembley, an attendance of 78,187 counts as something of a disappointment. There should have been “full house” signs up on Saturday, just as there were for their meeting 28 years ago, which was watched by over 98,000.

Figures like that will rouse the old debate about playing the final earlier in the season, although that would not change the fact that rugby league is affected more severely than most sports by the recession.

This final will have won few new converts for the code. It simply was not that sort of carnival match and will be remembered mainly for its dour, attritional rhythm under steel-grey skies.

In a typical case of luck of the draw, the two teams now play each other in Super League on Friday night, when they might easily manufacture a thing of beauty.

What it will not change is the remarkable situation of both the Challenge Cup and the FA Cup being ensconced in Wigan – an historic first.

And one last history alert; Hull still have not won at Wembley.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'