Warrington Wolves are one step from booking their annual trip to Wembley after a display that showed the Challenge Cup is still special for them. They reserved their best performance of the season for the game’s oldest competition, feasting greedily on a generous supply of errors by the Huddersfield Giants.
They will now play Hull, who beat the Catalan Dragons 24-13 on Saturday, in the semi-finals in two weeks’ time, while the other half of the draw made after this match paired the London Broncos and the winners of tonight’s tie between Wigan and Widnes. Warrington have made a speciality of winning the Challenge Cup in recent years. Huddersfield, for all the investment in the club, have only made a speciality of almost winning trophies. The Wolves have carried the Cup away from Wembley three times in the last four years, usually after beating the Giants somewhere along the way.
They virtually made certain of further progress this time with four tries in the first 25 minutes, each stemming from a Huddersfield mistake.
The first came when Craig Kopczak lost the ball in a four-man tackle and Paul Wood charged over from Ben Westwood’s pass. Then Shaun Lunt coughed up possession and Trent Waterhouse strolled in. Chris Hill’s rampaging run set up the next, the Giants getting the ball back and losing it through Jermaine McGilvary for Mickey Higham to score.
Then Ukuma Ta’ai squandered possession and Chris Riley eventually went over. Huddersfield have been beyond this stage often enough in the last few years, and are above Warrington in the Super League table, but they looked over-awed. They threw that off, at least for a few minutes, with tries from Lunt and Dale Ferguson, but the Wolves ended the half as dominant as ever with a try by Joel Monaghan. He and his centre, Chris Bridge – impressive in his first start after injury – fashioned a facsimile after the break, followed by an audacious kick and chase from Lee Briers, who completely outshone his opposite number, the anonymous Danny Brough. There was a brief flash of his quality in the kick for McGilvary’s try, but it was far too little to throw the Wolves off track.
The Cup might be considered small beer by some these days – and a crowd of 7,603 was way below Warrington’s Super League average – but it retains a special place in their calendar.
It used to be Widnes, for eight years it was Wigan, but this was further evidence that, if you are looking for the modern day Cup specialists, it has to be the Warrington Wolves.
Warrington Hodgson; J Monaghan, Bridge, Simon Grix, Riley; Briers, Ratchford; Wood, Higham, Hill, Waterhouse, Westwood, Cooper. Substitutes used Morley, M Monaghan, Carvell, Currie.
Huddersfield Scott Grix; McGilvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy; Brough, Robinson; Patrick, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Ta’ai, Lawrence. Substitutes used Crabtree, Faiumu, Ferguson, Mullally.
Referee P Bentham.