Richards inspires Wigan Challenge Cup win
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Pat Richards will go down in Wigan folklore and the departing wing admits an old-fashioned 16-0 Challenge Cup final victory against Hull FC was the perfect way to mark his last Wembley appearance for the Warriors.
The 31-year-old will return to Wests Tigers at the end of the season after eight years in Lancashire but having helped them win the prestigious piece of silverware by kicking eight points in a dominant display against the Airlie Birds.
Iain Thornley crossed in the first half while Sam Tomkins, linked with a move to the NRL next season, notched a late score to secure the Warriors’ 19th Challenge Cup success in wet conditions.
This was Richards’ second, following on from the 2011 victory against Leeds, and although the clash failed to live up to its pre-match billing the New South Wales-born ace wasn’t complaining.
“I’m absolutely over the moon, I still can’t believe it actually, but it was a great game of rugby league, it was a pretty old-fashioned game given the conditions, but we came away with it in the end,” said Richards, who finished with 100 points in the competition over the course of the season.
“Credit to Hull, though, they stuck in there and gave us a really tough game.
“The conditions were difficult, you have to get in there and take a few carries and help your forwards out, it was one of those games.
“Matty Smith was outstanding, his kicks to the corner were great for us, and to come away with the victory is a dream come true.”
All the talk before the showpiece was of the memorable 1985 final between the two sides that the Warriors won 28-24.
This clash may not live as long in the memory as that showpiece 28 years ago which featured Australian legends Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny, but it was equally absorbing for the 78,137 in attendance.
Hull FC captain Gareth Ellis, though, was less than impressed with his side’s error count, which he believes cost them dearly.
“Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong,” said Ellis, who spent three seasons with the Tigers.
“We were disappointed in our performance, there are a lot of shattered lads in the dressing room but we didn’t really give ourselves a chance.
“We thought we could do the job, but we didn’t really do well enough. The pleasing thing is how well we defended, but we had to do so much of it and you can’t do it for that long over the course of 80 minutes.”
Hull coach Peter Gentle was also at a loss to explain why his side struggled to cope with the sodden conditions.
“We couldn’t hold the ball, we spoke all week about having an even percentage of possession but they were just too good for us in all facets, and we gave them a good leg up,” he said.
“I don’t know what went wrong, our training has been spot on, our preparation has been great, we just couldn’t perform on the day.”© AAP 2014
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