Warrington Wolves player ratings as Matt Dufty excels in Challenge Cup semi-final victory

Ben Olawumi
Warrington Wolves

Warrington Wolves celebrate a try during their Challenge Cup semi-final victory against Huddersfield Giants

Warrington Wolves reached the Challenge Cup final and sealed a Wembley return for the first time since 2019 as they beat Huddersfield Giants 46-10 at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Having not lifted silverware in the five years since that 2019 trip to the capital, when they beat St Helens, it has taken just a few months at the helm for head coach Sam Burgess to guide his Wolves side to within just 80 minutes of a trophy lift.

As has been the case more often than not so far this season, there were a number of huge individual displays for the Wire against Huddersfield, rampant throughout the 80 minutes of the semi-final.

Here are Love Rugby League‘s player ratings for Warrington from the last-four clash in front of 9,253 spectators…

Matt Dufty – 9

This was Dufty at his best, or at least very nearly. He’s electric when he gets going and has a really high rugby league IQ. He got the tries his performance deserved in the second half, but we’d argue his break through the line and subsequent assist for Matty Ashton in the first 40 was his finest moment.

Josh Thewlis – 7

Ashton was the winger that got the glory, but Thewlis – seven from 10 with the boot – was great too. The pair of them are lethal when they’re on form, and they have been more often than not recently. Kicking the ball dead from a kick off took his score down, as harsh as that may be! We have to separate them somehow…

Toby King – 7

King just oozes class, and even when it’s not him scoring, he’s causing problems for the opposition defence. He played a key role in the try which got things going for Wire in this semi-final. The Challenge Cup was the one domestic piece of silverware he didn’t lift with Wigan last year, so we’re sure he’ll be desperate to succeed against his former club at Wembley next month!

Rodrick Tai – 8

It took a while for Tai to get going at Warrington, but he’s off and away now, no doubt about that. The Papua New Guinean is very strong with the ball in hand, and that showed with his try late on, making it look easy getting past the Giants defender in his way. He was an absolute rock in defence for the most part, too.

Matty Ashton – 8

Wingers constantly get praise because they’re the ones that tend to score, but Ashton more than deserves every bit coming his way after Sunday’s triumph. He was alert to pretty much every opportunity to get forward, be that with the ball in his own hands or supporting a team-mate. He stopped a 40/20 early on in the second half too. If we did half points, he’d get 8.5!

George Williams – 9

There’s a reason the England skipper has achieved so much in his career, and its performances like this. Williams was superb in every area, with his two involvements in a phenomenally well-worked first try a sign of things to come. If Wire are to taste success silverware-wise this year, they need him to keep doing what he’s doing. Oh, but work on your drop goals, George (we jest).

Josh Drinkwater – 8

Drinkwater gets a lot of stick at times, but we thought he was really good in this last-four tie. He – of course – got the glory of scoring the opening try, but showed quality throughout, particularly with the boot, picking out areas of space in backfield a few times and giving the chasing pack a chance to get at Huddersfield.

James Harrison – 7

Harrison has rarely disappointed this season, and didn’t on Sunday afternoon. He may not have had as much of an impact as we’ve seen from him to date in 2024, but he added some ‘oomph’ in his stints out on the field and did exactly what boss Burgess would have wanted him to. The prop’s rise has been superb.

Danny Walker – 9

Our headline says Williams ran the show, which he did, but Walker did that just as much in his 46-minute stint. He’s always a livewire, but on a day where Wire needed him to help get them to Wembley, he was untouchable at times. Scooting out from dummy-half, he got his reward with a first half try and then made a superb break to tee up Williams. A leader among men.

Paul Vaughan – 7

There’s not much more needs to be said about Vaughan than the fact he’s an absolute powerhouse. There are plenty in Warrington’s forward pack who are monsters, physically & mentally, and he is one of those. Huddersfield didn’t have much luck getting through him, anyway!

Matty Nicholson – 7

We don’t have the stats available to us, but we’d love to see the tackle count of Wire’s two starting second-rowers from the semi-final clash. Nicholson is just shaded out by his Australian partner in our ratings, but the youngster put in another fine display, unlucky not to score towards the end of the first half having made a break.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon – 8

Fitzgibbon is another who’s just so hard to stop for opposition defences, and so hard to get past for opposition attacks. The Giants were virtually unable to do either, they’re not the first team and won’t be the last to struggle against the big Aussie. He was given a well-deserved rest by Burgess towards the end.

Ben Currie – 8

Moving Currie into loose has made him an absolute revelation, both in defence and attack, and both were on show when he rampaged forward in the second half. Having charged down a kick and used his nouse to not ‘play at the ball’, he picked it up and charged onwards, brought down but seeing Dufty cross moments later. A big, big performance again.

Sam Powell (Interchange) – 7

Powell has seen and done more or less everything in this game, but he played a notable supporting role in getting Warrington to Wembley having come on off the bench. He’ll have been annoyed at having his pocket picked for Kevin Naiqama’s try, but got over for one of his own before the final hooter to make amends. Terrific.

Joe Philbin (Interchange) – 7

Philbin had a couple of stints out on the field, and made a positive impact overall, very clever to win his side a penalty early on in the second half, though they couldn’t add the two on that occasion. His score would have been higher but for the six again he gave away immediately after coming on. That didn’t end up costing the Wire on the scoreboard, though.

Zane Musgrove (Interchange) – 6

This is the lowest score on the door, and that’s only the case as Musgrove just went about his business quietly and astutely during his time out on the field, was was shorter than he’d probably have hoped. No huge mistakes, nothing glamorous.

Jordan Crowther (Interchange) – 7

Crowther fell into a similar sort of territory, but played longer and made a smart tackle on speedster Swift in the first-half as he made a burst for the line. Had the Giants winger got over for a second of the afternoon, at that point, it would have got them right back into the game. In our eyes, an important moment.