St Helens justified their favourites tag with a comfortable Challenge Cup Final victory over Huddersfield Giants at Twickenham in front of 65,000 fans. The Giants were well in the game at half time after a courageous first half display, but they just couldn't handle Saints' attacking prowess in the second half. Saints scrum half Sean Long became the first player to win the Lance Todd Trophy for man of the match 3 times, as Huddersfield failed to handle his relentless kicking game and blistering pace in midfield.
Huddersfield enjoyed a dream start when Leon Pryce tried to stop the kick off with his foot, only for it to balloon back in to the hands of the Giants, giving them excellent field position straight from the off. Saints saw them off, only for 3 Giants tacklers to drag an off-colour Keiron Cunningham behind his own line to force a drop out. The Giants forced repeated sets before Brad Drew broke through the Saints line after Paul Sculthorpe had moved up in preparation for a pass. Drew sprayed the ball out wide for Michael De Vere who put in his winger Martin Aspinwall for the opening try.
Huddersfield continued their dominance as their playmaking trio of Drew, Chris Thorman and Robbie Paul sped up the play the ball and pinned Saints back with an excellent kicking game, supported by a good chase. Their next chance came when Wayne McDonald stretched the Saints defence and offloaded to Robbie Paul, but a lack of support and some desperate defence kept the Giants out.
A controversial penalty against the underdogs stopped the Huddersfield momentum, and it came when Chris Nero was accused of ripping the ball out, when it looked like a perfectly executed one-on-one steal against Francis Meli. The penalty went to Saints however, and a couple of plays later, Paul Sculthorpe grubber kicked the ball towards the Giants line, and after it ricocheted off Steve Snitch, Drew couldn't get his hands on it, and Willie Talau, star of Saints' last Challenge Cup Final win over Wigan, pounced on the ball and dived over for the equalising try.
The game then started to even out before Ade Gardner made a break down the left, only for a superb covering tackle from Paul Reilly to deny him. But then, perhaps the deciding moment in the game, came just 5 minutes before half time. Huddersfield failed to wrap up a Saints attacker in midfield, and the ball found Jamie Lyon, who went outside his marker, fended off another, before popping the ball up inside to Ade Gardner. Gardner found Sean Long outside him and the Great Britain scrum half went over to make it 12-6 to the favourites at half time.
Saints came out stronger after half time and when Maurie Fa'asavalu broke through, Saints had enough numbers to send Jon Wilkin crashing over to make it 18-6. The floodgates opened as Huddersfield failed to handle the potent attacking supremacy of St Helens. Tries came from Maurie Fa'asavalu, Jamie Lyon and a second for Jon Wilkin, before Robbie Paul grabbed a smart consolation try for Huddersfield. Jason Cayless rounded off the scoring with 8 minutes left to secure a 42-12 victory, with Jamie Lyon landing 7 goals from 7.
It was a tough second half for Huddersfield who put up a great fight in the opening 40 minutes, but the class of St Helens shone through as they justified just why they were such strong favourites to claim their 10th Challenge Cup win.