Aaron Sutcliffe reviews the 2021 Challenge Cup Final between St Helens and Castleford at Wembley. Here’s how the game went.
St Helens 26
Tries: Theo Fages (10), James Roby (42), Tommy Makinson (51), Kyle Amor (78)
Goals: Lachlan Coote (11,43,67,72,79)
Tries: Niall Evalds (16), Jake Trueman (25)
Goals: Gareth O’Brien (18,26)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The game started at a frantic pace, despite temperatures reaching almost 30°C in the capital, with Saints early pressure paying off after 11 minutes when Theo Fages chased Jonny Lomax’s grubber kick and was rewarded when the ball bounced back off the post and into his hands to touch down underneath the sticks.
Cas responded with a typically classy try on 16 minutes when they worked the ball right before Peter Mata’utia broke clear and kicked inside for Niall Evalds who collected the ball cleanly to finish a fine team move.
Some remarkable defence from Castleford saw them pin Saints inside their own 10-metre zone after five tackles before the game was turned on its head on 25 minutes when a superb pinpoint kick on the last from Gareth O’Brien was taken out of the air by Jake Trueman who dotted down underneath the posts.
The Tigers almost extended their lead just before half-time when a cute grubber into the in-goal area from Paul McShane was eventually cleared into touch by Regan Grace moments before Evalds could touch the ball down.
HALF-TIME: St Helens 6 Castleford Tigers 12Embed from Getty Images
Saints scored with virtually their first attack of the second-half, following a lengthy check by video referee Chris Kendall, when James Roby went over on 42 minutes after a high kick was deemed to have landed inside the field of play before some good work from Regan Grace set Roby on his way for a clear run to the try line.
The lead changed once again on 51 minutes when a superb lateral run from Jack Welsby drew in the Tigers defence before passing right to Kevin Naiqama who in-turn found Tommy Makinson to score in the corner with Lachlan Coote unable to add the extras from a tough angle.
Daryl Powell’s side looked to wrestle back the advantage on the hour mark only for Saints to squeeze Derrell Olpherts out of play with some superb defence before Coote kicked a penalty after 66 minutes to move a converted try ahead of their opponents.
More ill-discipline from Castleford allowed Coote another chance to kick at goal, after they were caught offside close to their own line, with the Australia-born full-back duly slotting his effort between the posts to put Saints two scores in-front heading into the final 10 minutes.
With Cas desperately trying to win back possession following a goal-line dropout, Michael Shenton caught Makinson in the air only for Coote to strike his effort wide of the posts.
Relentless Saints pressure eventually paid off when Kyle Amor powered his way over the line with just two minutes left to play to all but seal a fine Wembley win.
St Helens claim their first Challenge Cup triumph since 2008 as Kristian Woolf’s side maintain their hopes of completing a domestic treble whilst Castleford’s 35-year wait to lift the famous trophy continues.
FULL-TIME: St Helens 26 Castleford Tigers 12