Warrington Head Coach Steve Price says their performance against St Helens in the Challenge Cup Final was the best during his two seasons in charge.
Warrington went into the game as heavy underdogs, but despite being without star man Blake Austin, they managed to overcome the season heat to topple the Super League leaders 18-4.
Price admits that it was good to eradicate some of their Wembley demons, having suffered a shock defeat to Catalans at Wembley 12 months ago.
“It’s a good feeling isn’t it,” he said. “It was a very hollow feeling last year and it still didn’t sit well with a number of players.
“We had to give an eight or nine out of 10 today. I’m just really pleased for the players as they are the ones who have worked their backsides off.
“I know what type of team I’ve got. I’ve got a great group of lads here who work extremely hard. I know we haven’t been playing great footy of late but I knew that we could turn it on on the big day and we certainly did that.
“That was the best performance I’ve seen since I’ve been here at the club. There were blokes out there on their feet; they were hanging tough.”
Price spoke leading up to the game that St Helens were heaviest favourite in Challenge Cup history, given they had beaten Warrington on each of their three previous meetings this season.
He accepted that they may have been feeling the pressure, but says his key players stepped up superbly, singling out Daryl Clark and Jack Hughes – making his first appearance since rupturing his testicle earlier this month – as real standouts.
“We made a pact during the week that my mate [Daryl Clark] was going to get the Lance Todd and he certainly delivered,” Price jokes. “He covered nearly every blade of grass out there.
“He was outstanding and had to be at his best for us to lift the trophy. He is an integral part of our team and make-up. He is a true warrior.
“I feel all the pressure was on St Helens. They have been the most consistent team for the last 18 months and playing great football; it had to take a special performance today to beat them and I’m really proud of my Warrington team.
“All the momentum and form was on them. They are number one in offence and defence by a country mile so we had to bring out our best to keep a quality team like that to four points on a big stage in heat like that; it’s special.
“When Blake went down we knew we had to do something different. We had to tighten up our right edge.
“Jack Hughes went out there and said ‘coach I’m going to sort this out’. His resilience and resolve to come back after a testicle rupture and go out and produce a performance like that was unbelievable.
“We had to simplify the plan; we had another run-in forward which worked in our favour. Dec and Stef had to take a lot of responsibility with their kicking game and our kicking game in the second half was outstanding.”
Despite the jubilation of a fourth Challenge Cup success in the last 10 years, Price is adamant that attention must quickly return to Super League.
The Wolves are second in the table on 30 points with three games remaining, but just two points separated them and sixth-placed Castleford, albeit with Price’s side holding a far superior points difference over their rivals.
“We won’t get too carried away as we’ve got to get back into Super League mode and start winning some games there,” Price admitted.
“We are going to enjoy the next couple of days as it’s a special achievement. But we will give ourselves every chance to try and get that first trophy back to Warrington in the Super League Grand Final.
“There are special times ahead we have a lot of belief and confidence going forward now.”