Warrington player ratings as Wolves deliver horror show in Challenge Cup final defeat

Ben Olawumi
Josh Drinkwater

Warrington Wolves' Josh Drinkwater (ball in hand) pictured in action during the 2024 Challenge Cup final

Warrington Wolves’ lengthy wait for silverware goes on having been beaten 18-8 in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley by Wigan Warriors on Saturday afternoon.

Wire‘s last trophy lift also came in the same competition back in 2019, but Sam Burgess’ side realistically never got going under the arch on Saturday, showing nervousness we’ve rarely seen from them so far this term.

These are our Wolves player ratings from the defeat in the capital…

Matt Dufty – 5

This type of performance isn’t one we’re accustomed to seeing from Dufty, but until his try, he never really recovered from an early sin-binning for contact with Liam Marshall’s head. Soon after returning to the field, he was penalised for an incorrect play the ball, though the try was Wire’s best moment of the game.

Josh Thewlis – 6

There’s really no one who donned a Wire shirt at Wembley that made anything happen until it was too late, and there were poor moments from Thewlis, but the winger did force Mike Cooper into a tackle which saw the Warriors ace sin-binned, and kicked four of Warrington’s eight points. That’s enough to warrant a six, we think.

Toby King – 5

If we’re being critical, and we are, King could have read the kick through for Wigan’s first try a little better. Far from the worst showing in a Wire shirt at Wembley, but having performed so well this year, he was unable to influence the game in any notable fashion. Truly a day to forget for the Wolves.

Rodrick Tai – 5

We’re huge fans of the Papua New Guinean centre, but Tai – along with the rest of the backline – really struggled to deal with danger when it came their way, looking well and truly bereft of ideas going forward. Like a lot, it appeared that nerves got the better of the Kumuls ace, though his try-saver on Marshall was a plus point.

Matty Ashton – 4

Ashton’s first notable moment in the game came when he dropped a high bomb midway through the first half which ultimately led to Wigan’s second try of the afternoon. It didn’t really get better from there, knocking on in his own 40 in the second half, that coming after being unable to take a pass out wide from George Williams cleanly.

George Williams – 5

There are few in this Warrington side and squad with as much experience of winning trophies, but ex-Wigan man Williams wasn’t able to orchestrate anything until it was too late, though not for the want of trying. His pass into touch with 25 seconds of the first half remaining summed the majority of Wire’s afternoon up.

Josh Drinkwater – 5

Drinkwater falls into a list of players longer than boss Burgess would have liked that didn’t really make any major errors, but also did very little by way of positive notable moments. The scrum-half just seemed to coast through the game, and not in a good way. Outclassed.

James Harrison – 5

Wire’s forward pack have had a lot of praise sent their way so far this season, but there just wasn’t enough shown from any of them at Wembley really. Harrison worked hard and was powerful with the ball in hand, but in a few years’ time, we won’t be able to recall anything special he did. That’s not a criticism he receives on his own, for the record.

Danny Walker – 6

Being beaten in a cup final will hurt everyone in the Wire camp, but perhaps none more so than hometown boy Walker, who tried his best to inspire something from his team-mates with incredibly limited success. He deserves some credit for his work carrying the ball out of dummy-half, at the least.

Paul Vaughan – 5

Very much like Harrison, and the majority of Warrington’s pack, Vaughan just didn’t do enough on the day. The Italy international is one of the more-experienced heads in the group, but couldn’t make his experience count. Very few moments of note.

Matty Nicholson – 5

The one notable moment we noted down beneath Nicholson’s name was when he had the ball taken off him one-on-one towards the end of the first half. That alone isn’t enough to rate him below some of his fellow team-mates, and again, it didn’t look like it was for the want of trying, but nothing seemed to come off for him.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon – 5

When we were able to go into the Wire camp earlier this week, Toby King was telling us how excited the Aussies in the group were for this final. That may well be the case, we don’t doubt it, but Fitzgibbon & co. were unable to help inspire anything. He just wasn’t visible enough with the ball in hand.

Ben Currie – 5

Currie is yet another experienced head who just didn’t get going, and given how vital he is in this newfound role at loose, the Wolves simply couldn’t afford for that to be the case. There will be plenty of disappointment when reflecting on this performance, and we know the stalwart will be among the most downhearted.

Joe Bullock (Interchange) – 5

If we did halves, we’d probably have given Bullock 5.5 here. Like everyone in the camp, he will be incredibly disappointed with how the afternoon panned out, but in a game where very little went right for Warrington, he managed to add a limited amount of firepower.

Zane Musgrove (Interchange) – 6

We actually thought Musgrove provided a level of impetus and power to Warrington when he was introduced, regardless of how easy it was to stand out in a poor showing overall. Nowhere near enough of an influence on the actual game to warrant any higher than a 6, mind, just like everyone else in the Wire side.

Jody Crowther (Interchange) – 5

Crowther was forced off with a foot injury 49 minutes in, and didn’t return to the field after that. Again, it’s hard to really pinpoint a moment of wrongdoing, but even more impossible – to the naked eye – to highlight anything he really did well or influenced.

Sam Powell (Interchange) – 5

We mean this with no offence whatsoever, but the first time we realised Powell was on the field was when he was moaning about Chris Kendall’s decision to award Liam Farrell’s breakaway try. The veteran is capable of much better, as we saw so many times in finals while donning a Wigan shirt.