Heard of David vs Goliath, Catalans Dragons winning the Cup as the first non-British side to win, London Broncos beating Toronto in last season’s Million Pound Game? What do these three stories have in common? The underdog came out on top. The Wire go into this Saturday’s Challenge Cup Final as the “biggest underdogs” according to their head coach Steve Price but you should never write off the underdog. This is why Chris Hill and his Warrington Wolves will win the 2019 Challenge Cup Final.
Route to the final:
Round five vs Wigan 26-24
Round six (QF) vs Hull KR 22-28
Semi-final vs Hull FC 22-14
The Wire Barmy Army
One thing that is always there with Warrington is the passionate fans: the loyal singing and travelling support that is the Wire’s 18th man. They are always making the noise, something that when the players need an extra boost or gear, the fans can help them get there from Magic Weekend to homecomings, even the semi-final victory against Hull. I have a feeling that if the primrose and blue are in their fine voice, anything could happen on the pitch.
Ten years ago, the Wire had their first taste of a Cup Final in over 20 years and defied all odds to win, the first major trophy for the club in over 35 years. Ten years on, they are about to make their sixth appearance following three wins and two defeats. However, the three wins Warrington had, they had been the underdog whilst with the two defeats, they were the favourites. Unlike St Helens who haven’t been to Wembley since 2008 when the won for the third time on the bounce, the Wire can use the underdog tag and the shock result can happen. It’s only the team that turns up that wins under those famous arches.
This season, Warrington have had a new leader in the half back department in marquee signing, Blake Austin. A player that was leading the Man of Steel rankings before the points went private a month ago, someone who has contributed so much to this season’s crop of Wolves. He has scored 19 tries in 27 appearances in all competitions in 2019. However, he has been injured since the start of the month and does face a race to be fit for Saturday. He is someone the Wire have missed a lot over the last month as they have failed to win any of their games. However, if he is fit, he could be crucial for the Wolves and could well be in the running for the Lance Todd Trophy.
End of an Era
Saturday will be the last time, if selected, for a legend of the game to play at Wembley. Ben Westwood, who has been at every Cup final the Wire have played in, has recently announced that he will be retiring at the end of the season, and earlier this week confirmed that no matter what, this weekend will be his last Wembley appearance but the Halliwell Jones Stadium cult hero has said that the side will use the underdog tag to their advantage.
Lucky number 7
One final reason the Wire may lift the famous trophy on Saturday is because they need to undo the last six major final defeats: the 2012 and 2013 Grand Finals, and both the Cup and Grand Finals in 2016 and 2018. Maybe as a team, especially the core of last season’s squad, will want to prove that they aren’t just the bridesmaids. They are coming up a team in St Helens that have their own redemption story after they lost both semi-finals last season (both Cup and the play-offs) and haven’t been in a final since 2014. I feel that the number 7 will be the right one for the Wire.