Hull FC vs. Wigan Warriors: Keys to Victory for Each Side in Epic Match
Wigan taking on Hull FC in the Challenge Cup final will evoke wonderful memories for many.
This hugely anticipated fixture is a rerun of the classic 1985 final, a match that saw Wigan's supremely talented team overcome the Black and Whites 28-24.
Can the 2013 final live up to such expectations?
This is undoubtedly a match of personal battles and star players. The key to victory doesn't just lie within form, but also the overcoming of injury and fitness problems. As we head into this potentially epic clash, we as who can make themselves a hero in front of the Wembley crowd?
Let's take a look.
Ben Crooks' Ability to Deal With Sam Tomkins
Key battles are set to take place across the pitch, but huge importance will be placed on Ben Crooks’ ability to shake off recent injury. The 20-year-old, who suffered ankle ligament damage last month against Bradford, is set to reclaim his starting place after a hasty recovery.
As reported by Yahoo! Eurosport, Crooks’ successful surgery allowed him to start training at the start of the week and has given him ample time to dust himself down ahead of the final.
The centre will need to hit the ground running. Crooks certainly possesses an attacking threat with 14 tries in 17 appearances this season, but he is set to go face-to-face with a player who has the capacity to win the game on his own.
Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins has proven himself to be a force in recent times, scoring 30 tries in 17 appearances and notching up a total of 140 from 142 career games.
Despite handing Hull a boost with his return, Crooks must ensure he is fully fit and able before taking to the field. Tomkins’ pace has the ability to dominate teams, especially when the player appears to be hunting a move away from England, as reported by BBC Sport. If Crooks is feeling rusty, his tackling and turn of speed could desert him.
Can Crooks overcome his recent injury to halt one of rugby league’s greatest players? One suspects Tomkins will waltz his way through the young player who is lacking match fitness.
Josh Charnley's Try-Scoring Prowess
Wigan winger Charnley knows exactly what it takes to capture Challenge Cup glory. Having won the competition in 2011 against Leeds Rhinos, the 22-year-old is more than experienced to handle the big occasion.
Super League's top scorer has continued to impress with scintillating form across the season. He is the only player to have reached 30 tries in the competition and is just one away from equalling his career best in a single campaign.
Both Charnley and Wigan have suffered a troublesome run of form recently, notching up two losses in the last three matches.
Although Charnley has averaged one try per game across this trio of matches, he knows the favourites can't take Hull lightly, as he told Neil Barker of the Manchester Evening News:
We had a bit of a blip a few weeks ago but we’ve come through that and bounced back from it.
We’ve shown that we can turn it around so it would be great to push on from that now and put in a big performance at Wembley.
We know we have to stay focused because we can’t afford to be off in our game on the day and we have to go out there and give it everything we have.
Playing in the cup final is a massive opportunity for everyone in the squad. Some of our players might never get the chance to play at Wembley again so it’s a huge thing for everyone to be involved and hopefully we’ll make it a day to remember.
Charnley's "now or never attitude" is vital ahead of kick-off. This urgency, and the willingness to replicate Wigan's glory of 1985, should see the Riversiders celebrating another famous victory.
Who will emerge victorious at Wembley? Let us know your keys to victory in the comments section below.
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