Blast from the Past: The 1998 Challenge Cup final

“Nobody believed we could do it apart from us”. That is what inspirational captain Paul Broadbent said after his Sheffield Eagles side beat Wigan 17-8 to win the 1998 Challenge Cup.

Until the final whistle went, that was definitely the case. It is still without doubt the biggest shock in rugby league history – the RFL did a fan’s vote and 62% chose the 1998 final – but the amazing thing is that the Eagles were clear and deserved winners on the day.

Sheffield completely outplayed their illustrious opponents in every department, and although the end scoreline may have been a surprise, the Eagles were unlucky not to get more points in a match they dominated.

The Yorkshire side’s team ethic and hard work for each other was too much for the subdued Warriors and, especially in the first-half, they were blown away.

It would be unfair to say that the result was only down to a poor Wigan performance, because even though the likes of Jason Robinson and Andy Farrell were unusually quiet, it was due to Sheffield’s enthusiasm and effort levels that they were unable to play.

Broadbent and his front-row partner, Dale Laughton, battered away at the Wigan line with sheer determination and when they built a platform to attack from, half-back Mark Aston stepped up to put in a Lance Todd Trophy winning performance.

Aston recently told Love Rugby League that it was an honour just being able to play in a Wembley final. He said, “I’m very proud that I played in a Challenge Cup final at Wembley. Not many players can have the honour of saying that, but I can.

“To actually win the final was a dream come true. The camaraderie and team spirit of our side was too much for the talent of the Wigan side, and it showed that you can do anything if you work hard enough.

Aston is now the head coach of the South Yorkshire club and this Saturday they are in another final – the Northern Rail Cup.

The Eagles take on Leigh Centurions at the Shay Stadium in Halifax but times are different to those of 1998 as Sheffield enter the final as big favourites due to a 15-match winning streak they are currently enjoying in the Kingstone Press Championship.

 

To win tickets to Sheffield’s next home Kingstone Press Championship match, against Keighley on Friday 26th July, click here.

Kingstone Press Cider has teamed up with LoveRugbyLeague to celebrate all things great about the rugby league Championships. For the rest of the season, ‘Championing the Championships’ campaign will put a weekly spotlight on each Championship and Championship 1 club to focus on their most memorable moments, look back at the clubs heroes and reward the loyal fans. Read more.

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