Yates' Wembley verdict: Saints the better side in a classic final

Sheer magic is the only way to describe the Betfred Challenge Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 8:11 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th July 2021, 8:12 pm
St Helens celebrate with the trophy. Picture: SWPix

It had fans of eventual winners, St Helens and Castleford Tigers on the edge of their seats for 80 breathtaking and awe-inspiring minutes and on a par with the 1985 Wigan-Hull FC showdown which, until now, I felt had been the best-ever in the 40 years of watching the sport.

The game, played in a stifling heat, must have taken its toll on both sets of players the longer it went on with Saints' stamina and slightly superior handling skills tipping the balance of power their way..

Cas, who were seeking to prevent their rivals winning the iconic trophy for the 13th time since the competition first started in the 1896-1897 season, gave the red-hot favourites a genuine run for their money but fell short of their ultimate goal.

Saints were without question the better of two hyped-up teams and after a blistering opening spell, in which they scored first, found themselves surprisingly trailing 12-6 at the interval.

It may have been a culture shock but St Helens fielded too many experienced and big game players to let it worry them and roared back in style to stamp their authority on proceedings.

At the same time, there were one or two second-half moments which could have turned the tide one way or the other.

There was question mark about the validity of skipper James Roby's 42nd minute try and then with the game still hanging on a thread, his team-mate Lachlan Coote produced a stunning last-gasp tackle on man of the match Niall Evalds to prevent him crossing the whitewash.

Just a shame someone had to lose - but that's sport !