Yates' Wembley view: Win it for Sione lads!

Win it for team-mate Sione Mata'utia! That's my message to the Saints' players who will be on duty against Castleford Tigers at Wembley in the showpiece of the season on Saturday and they can't have a bigger and better incentive to lift the most treasured trophy in Rugby League and bringing a smile back on the face of the currently crestfallen Samoan.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 11:00 am
Saints meet Castleford at Wembley on Saturday
Saints meet Castleford at Wembley on Saturday

Mata'utia picked up a one-match ban on the eve of what would have been his sporting dream of a life-time and now can only watch-on as Saints bid to chalk-up their 13th Challenge Cup Final victory.

But he is still an important member of coach Kristian Woolf's closely-knit squad and will no doubt be playing a crucial part in the build up - even if only from the sidelines.

Saints have been installed as favourites to win the competition but I think it will be a closer run affair than many people are predicting.

Temperatures at ground level in the stadium could be touching at least 90 degrees on the day and fitness levels may be crucial as the game unfolds.

Both sides are like to play expansive rugby if given the chance and as far as the neutrals are concerned they are expecting a humdinger of an encounter.

Hyped- up matches of this kind often fail to deliver the goods but on this occasion I believe it will measure up to the best Wembley Final I've ever seen when Wigan defeated Hull FC 26-24 before 99,801 supporters in 1985.

Quality oozes through the veins of both clubs and there will be one or two key areas where a modern day version of the Battle of the Roses is likely to bloom.

Saints come into the contest on the back of some better than average results.

Woolf’s side have lost only two of their 15 matches in all competitions, one to Super League leaders Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves.

They started the season slowly but have got their attacking players to gel as they look as dangerous as ever with ball in hand.

Cas, too, have been boosted by the return of several top players following an injury-hit season and Saints know that the West Yorkshire underdogs are capable of biting hard.

Let's hope their bark is worse than their bite!