3 key battles which will decide Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final
It’s the current Ladbrokes Challenge Cup holders against the tournament’s most successful club, as 2016 winners Hull FC face 19-time champions Wigan Warriors in Saturday’s Final at Wembley.
With both sides making the Super 8s again in 2017, this is likely to be a close-run contest, with a wealth of talent on show.
Here are the key battles we think will settle the Challenge Cup Final, beginning with an intriguing head-to-head tussle…
Will Kelly be king or can Williams win?
Two of Super League’s finest stand-offs face off in the capital, in the form of Hull’s Albert Kelly and Wigan’s George Williams.
The former has recorded 19 tries and eight assists this term, while Williams has been the country’s outstanding provider, setting up an incredible 28 tries in Super League – seven more than anyone else has mustered.
Both clubs have an imposing pack, so these two will have to be quick and accurate in their passing, with a congested physical battle likely to occur around the tackle.
Kelly is unlikely to have the space to pull off the jinking runs he’s managed against less illustrious opposition, so Williams’ smart handling and neat distribution means we’re backing him to edge this battle.
Can Airlie Birds keep Marshall at bay?
He’s scored 23 tries this season, including three in two meetings against Lee Radford’s men. So, can tricky centre Liam Marshall continue to cause Hull major problems, or will they finally keep the Cherry & Whites ace quiet?
It’s a big ask, but the East Yorkshire outfit have produced some very strong defensive displays of late. They produced a rearguard master-class at St. Helens earlier this month, winning 8-6, condemning Saints to their joint-lowest points total in 11 months.
Having also kept the likes of Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants down to 10 points in the past couple of months, it’s certainly not impossible that they can frustrate Marshall.
Can tough-tackling Hull win the physical battle?
While there’s a lot of pace and creativity in this Warriors side, Hull have a very tough triumvirate at second-row and loose-forward who could prove extremely difficult to break down.
Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello and Danny Washbrook all head into this clash in strong form, with each having racked up over 630 tackles in the Super League season.
Add to that the fact Hull hooker Danny Houghton has managed more tackles than anyone in the division in 2017, with an incredible 956, and it’s clear that Shaun Wane’s men won’t have it easy.
Still, with three players boasting 50+ tackle busts this term, they certainly have the trickery and creativity to bamboozle opposition players. It promises to be an intriguing tussle.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing