Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
This Saturday afternoon, back-to-back Super League champions St.Helens look to win their 13th Challenge Cup and their first in 13 years against the Castleford Tigers.
While a Saints win would end a drought that had lasted over a decade, a Tigers win would have monumental historical implications.
Castleford has won Rugby League’s oldest tournament on four occasions; however, they’ve not done so in 35 years, with their major silverware drought coinciding with Parramatta’s in the NRL.
In the 1986 Challenge Cup Final, a Malcolm Reilly coached Castleford Tigers outfit defeated Hull Kingston Rovers in a tight contest 15-14, with scrum-half Bob Beardmore kicking the match-winning field goal to seal the result, he would also end up receiving the Lance Todd Trophy for best and fairest in the final.
Since then, Castleford has come extremely close to silverware on three occasions.
The first occasion was in 1992, when the Tigers went down to Wigan in the Challenge Cup Final, the next was in 2014 when Castleford lost the Challenge Cup Final to Yorkshire rivals Leeds, and finally, the 2017 Grand Final, where the Rhinos broke the hearts of Castleford fans everywhere.
Castleford’s form has not been the best heading into this clash with St.Helens, with the Tigers losing three of their past four games, which included a 24-0 defeat at the hands of the Saints.
However, “Classy Cas” will undoubtedly rise to the occasion and prove a formidable opponent, anything less will simply not be acceptable for the Castleford faithful, who have now waited over three decades for their club to bring home a major trophy.
Players such as reigning Man of Steel Paul McShane will be expected to be at their best and leave everything out on the field after the game.
No matter where you’re from or who you support, as Rugby League fans we love ourselves a good David versus Goliath story on the big stage, and it’s hard to find a better description for the 2021 Challenge Cup Final than that.
The team that has dominated English Rugby League for the past two and a half seasons up against a former giant of the game that has been through many hardships since their last reign at the top long ago.
Grab the popcorn, this one is going to be a blockbuster!