Halifax did Championship proud in Cup, says Justin Holbrook

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook was elated to reach Wembley but was keen to make the day all about Championship opponents Halifax.

Super League table toppers Saints defeated Championship part-timers Fax 26-2 in Bolton on Saturday to progress to the Challenge Cup final.

St Helens kept their opponents scoreless while running in four tries, but Holbrook was full of praise for Simon Grix’s Halifax outfit.

He said: “It was a semi-final and we had to win it to get to Wembley and we’ve done that so that’s really pleasing.

“We expected Halifax to be tough and I thought it was great that we won the game but great for the competition over here to have a Championship team in the semi-final and for them to play as well as they did was great.

“They tried hard for the full 80 minutes and it was good for Halifax and the Championship but we are just happy to win it.

“I knew Halifax were going to make it hard for us. These games are tricky to play when you are the side that everyone says ‘you have already won’ before it’s started but it was a semi-final to get to Wembley and that’s what we kept coming back to.”

Saints skipper made his long-awaited return from a groin injury in their win over Fax but full-back Lachlan Coote faces a couple of more weeks on the treatment table with a knee issue.

Holbrook added: “It was great to have Robes back because we are a much better side when he is out there.

“We knew we hadn’t been to Wembley for a long time (11 years) and that was weighing on the boys’ shoulders as well so it was always going to be tough.

“I thought our outside-backs did great. I thought Mark Percival was the best on the field with everything he did. He carried strong and defended great so I thought Percy was our best by a long way today.”

Holbrook confirmed Wales international Morgan Knowles didn’t play in the semi-final because of a rib injury.

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