Huddersfield Giants have the chance to win their first Challenge Cup trophy in 56 years after producing a magnificent performance to overcome current Cup holders St Helens at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium.
It was 1953 when the Giants last won the trophy and will now face Warrington Wolves at Wembley on 29th August, a tie not seen in the final since 1933. Huddersfield won that day 21-17 and now look to be favourites to win the competition after proving to be one side that could break rugby league’s duopoly of Leeds and Saints, who have had a stranglehold on both competitions in the last few years.
Saints started the game favourites, looking to reach their seventh final out of the last nine and continue their run of victories after beating the Giants, Catalans and Hull in previous years.
But any hope of that was soon put under threat within the first few minutes of the game as Luke Robinson hit a gap and raced away only to find the move ended after Jamahl Lolesi failed to collect Liam Fulton‘s pass.
Saints soon hit back though, the speed from the ruck area enabling Francis Meli to scrape his way over the line despite the failed attentions of Cudjoe.
The scoreline stayed like that until half-time, but it changed just seconds after the interval. Huddersfield’s kick-off was spilled, and from the base of the scrum they scored a try worthy of winning the game.
Brown picked up the ball and slid a superb chip behind the advancing St Helens‘ defence for Cudjoe to outpace full-back Wellens who had chimed into the defensive pattern on the wing, to score what can only be described as an excellent training ground move.
One try soon became two, and Brown soon found his name on the scoresheet as his high bomb was spilled by the usually reliable Ade Gardner, and the former Wigan youngster was on hand to collect.
St Helens were never going to give up without a fight. Eastmond provided the spark and speeded needed to launch any counter attack, and they were ably assisted by the indiscipline of the Giants who struggled to slow play down.
It was off the back of some of this pressure that Saints grabbed their second try. Clearly needing to show some initiative in the middle of the pitch to break Super League‘s top defence, Lee Gilmour – who is joining the Giants at the end of the current campaign – kicked through and collected to supply the supporting Jon Wilkin, who in turn fed Meli for his second try.
Brett Hodgson ended any hope of a fightback though, showing a moment of class and ingenuity to step off the back foot and break through the Saints’ defence on the final tackle, before kicking diagonally for Stephen Wild to score and send their fans into raptures with just minutes remaining.
Saints did salvage some pride with a late try through Meli to complete his hat-trick, but it was the Yorkshire side who make it to Wembley – their first time at the stadium since 1962.