Ranking the 7 greatest tries in Challenge Cup final history: Wigan Warriors, Bradford Bulls and St Helens included

Aaron Bower

History will be made this weekend when Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves square off in a Challenge Cup final for only the second time in history.

The pair have been involved in plenty of finals though – and both played in some unforgettable showpiece events where there have been some stunning Wembley tries scored.

With the calibre of talent on show this weekend, there’s every possibility another iconic Challenge Cup final moment will be created. And we’ve run the rule over some of the greatest tries in final history – and ranked what we think are the best seven.

7. Tom van Vollenhoven (1961)

Tom van Vollenhoven

We’re starting over 60 years ago, in the 1961 Wembley finale between arch rivals St Helens and Wigan – and a stunning try from the Saints superstar, Tom van Vollenhoven.

It was a classic centre-wing pairing try, started by van Vollenhoven’s centre, Ken Large. He freed van Vollenhoven down the wing before the South African turned it back inside for Large. Then, with Eric Ashton covering to try take down Large, he returned the favour and gave it to van Vollenhoven to finish a wonderful try.

The Saints won the final 12-6.

6. Joe Lydon (1984)

Joe Lydon Andy Gregory

Fast forward over 20 years for the next entry on the list, scored by Widnes superstar Joe Lydon in their 1984 final victory over Wigan. To be fair, Lydon scored two remarkable solo tries, but we’re giving his second one the nod here.

With the game heading into the closing stages, Lydon collected a loose pass deep inside his own half before outpacing four or five Wigan defenders to race to the line. Lydon’s heroics would win him the Lance Todd Trophy and of course, two years later, he’d become the first £100,000 transfer in rugby league when he signed for Wigan.

5. Robbie Hunter-Paul (1996)

Robbie Paul Bradford

The first of two entries from the same final up next! The 1996 finale at Wembley was a true classic, one of the modern era’s greats – and it’s best remembered for two things: St Helens’ 40-32 victory, and Robbie Hunter-Paul’s hat-trick which came in vain.

His third try was a stunning solo effort. Then only 20 years of age and still a rookie in the British game, Hunter-Paul announced his arrival in some style, with a magnificent break through the St Helens line to complete his hat-trick. He was only the fourth man ever to score a hat-trick in a Challenge Cup final at that time.

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4. Henderson Gill (1985)

No, not the infamous boogie try – that was in a Great Britain jersey. But another unforgettable Wembley moment courtesy of Wigan winger Henderson Gill in their 1985 win over Hull in front of 99,801 people!

With Wigan penned in deep inside their own half, a remarkable pass from Brett Kenny found its way to David Stephenson, who released Gill with a slick, quick pass.

Gill did the rest – though he still had to beat Gary Kemble in a foot-race, which he did incredibly to race to the line and score one of the final’s all-time great tries.

3. Steve Prescott (1996)

Back to 1996 – and a stunning try featuring an incredible piece of skill from the one and only Steve Prescott MBE.

With the game against Bradford still in its early stages, Bobbie Goulding produced an audacious chip over the top of the Bulls defence. Prescott raced onto it and instinctively kicked ahead, before sprinting past Nathan Graham and winning the race to the line to score an unforgettable try.

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2. Joel Tomkins (2011)

We’re now heading into legendary try territory – and there’s no way we could have left perhaps the greatest Wembley try of the last few years off this list.

Started by Sam, finished by Joel – it was a wonderful Wigan try put together by the Tomkins brothers which lit up Wembley. With Wigan 10-0 ahead and the half-hour mark approaching against Leeds in the 2011 final, Sam shimmied his way across the Rhinos’ line before finding brother Joel out wide.

Tomkins effortlessly carried the ball one-handed, pushing away one Leeds defender before stepping back inside and cutting between Jamie Peacock and Brent Webb to go in under the posts.

1. Martin Offiah (1994)

Martin Offiah Wigan Warriors Alamy

There was, in truth, no other try that could have sat top of a list like this.

It’s another Wigan try in a final victory against Leeds, this time in 1994 scored by the one and only Martin Offiah. It is arguably rugby league’s most iconic try – and most iconic celebration.

Offiah, deep inside his own half, burst through the Leeds line with incredible speed before racing away downfield. He was suddenly in a one-on-one with Leeds fullback Alan Tate and Offiah produced an outrageous burst of acceleration to beat Tate on the outside to score the greatest Wembley try in history.

Offiah infamously slumped to his knees and put his head in his hands. There will surely never be another try like it again.

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