Challenge Cup 2013: Breaking Down Key Matchups for Saturday's Final

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Challenge Cup 2013: Breaking Down Key Matchups for Saturday's Final
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Wigan Warriors and Hull FC meet at Wembley on Saturday in the Challenge Cup final.

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Two of the nation’s in-form clubs butt heads at the cathedral of English sport in London to decide who takes the trophy home to the North of England.

Based on league performances this season, Wigan are firm favourites, but Hull showed in their surprise semi-final win over Warrington that they are capable of pulling off the unexpected.

The stage is set for an exciting clash, with some of Super League’s biggest individual battles set to tip the balance.

 

Josh Charnley vs. Tom Briscoe

Already a Challenge Cup champion from 2011, Josh Charnley knows exactly what’s required to step up to such a pressurised game.

The Wigan marvel has been omnipresent for the Warriors this season, scoring more than 30 tries and generally finishing off whatever scraps are fed to his wing.

However, standing in his way will be Tom Briscoe, a player who may not remain at Hull much longer given the speculation of a move, per the Hull Daily Mail.

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Briscoe has been a strong asset to Saturday's underdogs and was particularly impressive in the semi-final win over the Wolves, although he did not cross the try line.

It would be all too easy for Hull to see themselves as being on the backfoot at Wembley and to be over-concerned with marking their opposite numbers.

So it’s important that Briscoe attacks as he has all season, rather than simply concentrating on stopping Charnley. Many have attempted that this season and it hasn’t worked out well.

 

Sam Tomkins vs. Jamie Shaul

With Hull FC's Shannon McDonnell still sidelined with a hamstring injury, Jamie Shaul is likely to continue at fullback, having so far impressed in the role.

Although they may not have too much direct contact, 21-year-old Shaul will need to be at his best when faced with the Wigan wonder and reigning Man of Steel, Sam Tomkins.

As BBC Sport explain, a question mark still hangs over Tomkins and whether he’ll stay in the Super League past the summer. All the more reason for the prolific fullback to finish his campaign with a trophy.

However, it is nice to see that the star back at least has time to concentrate on other decisions:

It’s almost inevitable that Tomkins will get the better share of line breaks in this fixture, which means Shaul will be the last line of defence for Hull.

Should Hull have any chance as dark horses, Peter Gentle’s young back needs his tackling to be effective, and also be ready to contribute going forward.

 

Blake Green vs. Daniel Holdsworth

Hull FC wouldn’t be at this stage of the competition were it not for Daniel Holdsworth.

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Their stand-off was superb against the Wire in the last round, and led his side well, proving to be a vital link in attack and steady platform for his fellow backs to run off.

Joe Arundel and Kirk Yeaman both benefit when Holdsworth is on his game, so Wigan’s Blake Green will be attempting to nip that influence in the bud by spoiling Hull's attacks.

Green plays a similar role to Holdsworth but can rely on a more talented back line to make up for any shortcomings. This will allow Wigan’s No.6 to concentrate on his defensive game.

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