Aetc. We were waiting for a train north of N17 on Saturday afternoon, when an hour after Judge James Child blew the final whistle – if there was a noise, few people heard it in an ecstatic cacophony from the end of Wigan – a slightly drunk, middle-aged Huddersfield fan said: “We will be a better team for this. We will reach the next Grand Final – just watch. ” Although his head was a little lighter, he did not sound or look confident. And this is the problem of the Giants.
Most agreed with Huddersfield boss Ian Watson’s assessment of a better team’s defeat, but his pre-match goal was “to be the top four in everything we do, to achieve a high level of consistency” in the long run. The speculation that Huddersfield – or Watson – will soon lift the Challenge Cup or the Super League Cup does not attract attention.
The salary cap pressures of relatively young Super League players have a very short window of opportunity until they are able to retain their low-paid, over-performing talent – both players and coaches. Watson led Salford to two finals in two seasons and went to Huddersfield until they parted ways; Daryl Powell formed two different Castleford sides and came home without a winning medal from three finals; Hull KR flirted without touching the silverware. The giants will soon have to strike when the irons are hot.
The assumption that Wigan were great game experts and green-horned Huddersfield was wrong. Yes, it was Wigan’s eighth major final since Huddersfield’s last in 2009, but the Challenge Cup final experience on both sides was quite balanced and both coaches had almost full hands to play. There were several excuses.
If Huddersfield want to learn how they lost the final, they can look at the chaotic opening period that took 17 minutes to turn their overall advantage into points in the first few seconds, in addition to the penalty. Huddersfield moved a handful of yards away from the test line.
It had been more than half an hour since Tui Lolohea had dropped Australian second rower Chris McQueen into the right center channel. Long sweaty locks on the ponytail, socks rolled to his feet, veteran McQueen looked at winger Jermaine McGillvary, apparently realizing he could hit himself. So he did. A 10-6 advantage that in no way reflects Huddersfield’s position in the first half would never be enough against this Wigan side.
Huddersfield had to seize every opportunity. Another impressive four consecutive missed goals by Lolohea hardly fit the job description. His first conversion attempt hit the left pole; The second of McQueen’s attempts swelled; 40-meter simple penalty went out in front of the poles; and the third conversion failed from the touch line. The threats from Huddersfield strikers and Wigan’s outside defenders were so equal that if it was a football match, Lolohea would have gone overtime and taken penalties by scoring.
Other things went against the Giants. They lost the most experienced Challenge Cup finalists – Chris Hilli to four of the team’s previous seven finals – with injuries just 20 minutes later, and Wigan executive Morgan Smithies was so lucky he didn’t make a mistake at late heights. front sleeve kick.
Even Tottenham’s stands, which rose more than Wembley, played a role in the drama. When Wigan driver Jay Field hit an empty ball and escaped McQueen’s helpless shot and advanced 50 yards to the touch line, panicked Huddersfield fans in the first few rows reached out and jumped as if trying to hit Fiel’s ankle. Instead, they saw Lolohea pass to eliminate the deadly threat.
But even though the huge bank of fans seemed to be silenced and defeated, there was a sense of inevitability in Wigan’s victory. A few minutes before Liam Marshall hit the late winner, the discussion in the press box was when Field or Bevan French would take the rabbit out of the hat. Instead, Harry Smith became Houdini. The joy in the red zone almost coincided with the deflation of the neutrals, as well as the despair in the bars and gold.
Huddersfield is simply the last player in the Super League to get a chance to change the scenario, but does not accept it. In the last five years, nine clubs have reached the grand final, which shows that parity has returned, albeit at ice speed, and they have won each of the last seven Challenge Cup finals differently. But everyone who knows the history of the game knows that it is not the giants, but the giants who die.
My voice helped McQueen become the 11th loser to win the Man of the Match award. Not that he was really different. Although he always looked tired from the first minute until the end, he defended Wigan every time he got the ball and did it more than anyone else.
McQueen’s renaissance was a quiet one. Ten years ago, on a regular basis with South Sydney, he turned down an interest from his father’s native England to continue his chances with Queensland and Australia. He played in two State Origins series, but was never selected by the Kengaroos. Wayne Bennett brought McQueen to the England team in 2017, but missed the World Cup after one performance. With his 35th birthday approaching, such days – especially in his father’s hometown – are an unexpected bonus for McQueen.
After receiving the glittering Lance Todd Trophy award, McQueen, who left his long barefoot for television interviews, sat on Tottenham Beach, took off his belt, and knelt on his back to look at the blue sky. He was probably surprised: “How did this happen?” He soon stood up, took the trophy in one hand and the medal in the other, and walked towards the fans as if every step was painful. Probably so. On the other hand, as the winning players of Wigan ran towards the giant fan bank with the trophy, the flames turned the air pink.
It took another 80 minutes for the homeless people to unload the train at Hartford East Terminal. The Wigan-clad couple admitted they were relieved of the victory, while a family of Leigh fans packed with Centurion helmets made their way to the stunned looks of the locals. In the last place, an old woman, proudly playing with Fartown burgundy and gold from the waist down, was walking in the parking lot. Maybe he and the giants will be at Old Trafford on September 24 for the Grand Final. Can be.
World Cup watch: Jon Dutton
The double title, which took place at the Premier League stadium on Saturday, was a taste of what will happen at the World Cup this fall. John Dutton, general manager of the upcoming World Cup, said: “We will learn a lot from coming to the new venue and the BBC watching the first rugby league event from a few new members of the team.” his native club is looking to lift Leigh’s 1895 trophy. “Although there is a tribal element, there will be a lot of spectators who do not support any of the teams playing here, which gives it a sense of festival. That’s what we’re looking for, especially in games where England don’t play. “
“We want to look and excite the rugby league community, but we also need to reach new fans,” Dutton said. “We know that we have reduced the number in London: 70% of the applications for voting for the entire tournament were from newcomers who are not in our database, and the largest zip code among them was from London. Most of the people who later demanded the money back came from that group, the community that went to the event. We need to keep in touch with them again, so this is a showcase for the sport. “
One last thing
Unless there is a major shake-up in the playoffs, one of the clubs will play in the Super League next season in the 1895 Cup final on Saturday. Despite all the criticism Huddersfield has received for the fan base, it must be acknowledged that even if they travel a few hundred more miles along the way, they will perform much better on average than the Featherstone or Leigh giants – and lower league favorites Toulouse or Wakefield. in home games. Their support at Tottenham was silent, mocking anyone who thought the 1895 Cup was irrelevant. “You’re being beaten at a bus stop,” Leigh fans shouted in mockery, insulting themselves – something familiar to Spurs fans.
With a team that looks stronger than they could have come together for the Super League last year, Leigh remains a lucky favorite to return directly. However, the arms race currently underway by both finalists should leave no financial concern for anyone left behind in the 2023 Championship.
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