St Helens fend off Castleford to take the Challenge Cup

St Helens secured a first Challenge Cup title since 2008 while also ensuring Castleford’s wait to lift rugby league’s most prestigious prize will continue for at least another year after the Super League champions secured yet another major trophy.

In energy-sapping heat, it was the Saints who emerged after an enthralling and entertaining final in front of the biggest crowd to attend a rugby league match in almost two years, 和 45,000 witnessing one of the best finals in recent memory.

Castleford played their part. Cheered on by an army of supporters making the trip from West Yorkshire, they led 12-6 at the break and looked well-placed to end their 35-year wait for a major trophy – and first under coach Daryl Powell.

然而, after losing the 2014 cup final and the Grand Final of 2017, the Tigers once again came up short as a much-improved second-half performance from St Helens guided them to victory.

After St Helens took an early lead through Theo Fages’s try, Castleford responded magnificently. They levelled the scores when the outstanding Niall Evalds started and finished a fine sweeping move, before Gareth O’Brien’s kick put Jake Trueman across, with O’Brien converting both tries to make it 12-6.

A controversial try for the St Helens captain, James Roby, after half-time – Mark Percival appeared to spill the ball in the buildup – levelled proceedings once again. Saints then went ahead when Tommy Makinson crossed in the corner.

Castleford’s players were already beginning to wilt in the extreme heat. They huffed and puffed without much success in the final half-hour, and as the Saints began to exert further control, back-to-back penalties from Coote opened up a two-score lead for the first time with 10 minutes remaining.

That would prove to be enough, but they finished with a further try when Kyle Amor barged his way over a tiring defence in the final moments.