December 5, 2022

The Odds for the Challenge Cup Final

As the 2022 Super League season has reached its halfway point, it is now possible to form an opinion regarding the performance of each of the twelve teams that are competing in this season’s tournament.

It should come as no surprise that the defending champions, St. Helens, are currently in the driver’s seat, but the Catalans Dragons are closing the gap quickly. The vast majority of people would have anticipated that these two teams would be in these two positions by this point in the year; however, they are followed by two clubs that look noticeably different to their 2021 vintages in 2022. Wigan Warriors are in third place and look like a revitalized team despite having a low-key off season recruitment wise. Their new head coach, the rookie Matt Peet, was recently hired. The fact that the Wiganer, who had no playing career to speak of, was given the reins at what is arguably the most famous club in the world of rugby league raised a few eyebrows; however, he has masterminded a change of playing style with the help of his two new assistants, Lee Briers and Sean O’Loughlin, which has had Warriors fans purring.

The next team to compete in the Super League is the Huddersfield Giants, who have been undergoing their own revolution for the past year and a half under the leadership of a British coach. After guiding Salford to consecutive major finals while maintaining an entertaining style of play on a shoestring budget, Ian Watson was highly sought after for all of the top jobs. This was due to the fact that he had established Salford as a team that plays entertaining rugby. Back in 2020, Huddersfield was the one to snag him with the promise of funds for recruitment and autonomy over the club’s direction in order to take over for the 2021 campaign. Huddersfield wanted him to take over for the 2021 campaign. The first year of the Watson era got off to a rocky start, but after an offseason recruitment drive that brought the head coach back together with some of his old favorites from Salford, Huddersfield look much more like they belong in 2022 and deserve to be in the top four.

The teams that are currently ranked third and fourth will compete against each other for the first trophy of the rugby league season. It is undeniable that Wigan have had the more difficult path to the final, as they were required to eliminate the Saints in a semi final for the ages. The Warriors put on an incredible display for the first forty minutes of the game, leading to many people saying that it was the best half of rugby they had ever seen anywhere in the northern hemisphere in the year 2022. As a result, they took a 14-0 lead into the break. Saints mounted a comeback in the second period and were able to take the lead for good, 18-14, shortly after their own try scoring blitz at Elland Road, which stunned the Wigan supporters. However, a breakaway try scored by Liam Marshall put the Warriors back in the lead, and they went on to win 18-20 and advance to their first final since 2017 as a result of their efforts. They haven’t taken home the prestigious award since 2013, so winning it again would be a huge deal for Wigan, as it would be the club’s 20th time lifting the Challenge Cup trophy. With a 25-4 victory over a Hull KR team that didn’t bring their A-game, Huddersfield breezed through the semi-finals with ease. Tui Lolohea, the Giants’ star player, had another outstanding performance, helping his team to move closer to its goal of winning the cup for the first time since 1953.

Odds

The first team to be selected for the Challenge Cup Final Odds in 2022 will be determined by whether or not Huddersfield shows up and performs to the best of their ability. I believe Watson will have been preparing his team for weeks in advance. Both the Giants and the Wigan have their primary threats coming from their fullback positions, with Lolohea for the Giants and the electrifying Jai Field for the Wigan. When looking across the backlines, it is clear that the Warriors have the advantage because the speed of Marshall and French on the wings poses a persistent threat to any opponent. The Wigan Warriors of 2022 are built for speed, so on a large, dry track like the one they will face in North London, you can anticipate to see the Warriors try to spread the ball out as much as possible. The fact that Frenchman Theo Fages won’t be able to play in the game makes this particular aspect of the team sheets much more even, despite the fact that I believe Huddersfield’s pairing at half back is the more formidable of the two. Jack Cogger is anticipated to step in for Olly Russell, the young scrum half, and work alongside him in the responsibility of directing the team around the field. It would be a shame if Harry Smith of Wigan were to be dropped in favor of the more experienced Tommy Leuluai. However, despite the fact that Leuluai is undeniably a safer pair of hands, if I were of the Huddersfield persuasion, I would be relieved to see the veteran replace the youngster in partnering Cade Cust based on this season’s form. Although it would be a shame for Harry Smith of Wigan

Will Pryce, one of the hottest young stars in the country, could return to action for the Giants after serving a massive ten game suspension for a shocking tackle earlier in the year. This is an ace up the Giants’ sleeve, and it gives them an advantage over their opponents. Pryce is scheduled to make his debut with Watson’s team coming off the bench. If the contest is close heading into the fourth quarter, his head coach is likely going to use him in the hopes that he can pull off some miraculous feats. For my money, Huddersfield’s front row is also superior to that of the Warriors, and their hooker Danny Levi has been outstanding ever since he moved to Huddersfield from Brisbane. However, in the back row, Wigan has two players of international caliber in the form of Farrell and Bateman. Particularly throughout his career, Farrell has been given insufficient credit, and the lines that he will be running off Cust, Smith, or Leuluai are going to give Ian Watson nightmares. It is my hope that this synopsis has made clear how evenly matched I consider the two teams to be on paper, and I do not anticipate either side winning easily at Tottenham. As a result of my anticipation of a close race that will be decided by a single point or less right up until the very end, I believe that the best strategy is to back the underdog that is favored by more than a converted try and is offered at odds of even money.

My last choice is to wager on the player who, in my opinion, possesses the greatest potential to tip the scales in his team’s favor and bring home the Lance Todd Trophy while also being named the game’s most outstanding performer. The Australian winger Jai Field signed with Wigan in 2021, and a lot of people had high hopes for him. Unfortunately, he tore his hamstring in the first round of that season, and he was never able to really get going after returning from such a lengthy lay off. Bevan French, a speedy Australian full back who was already a member of Wigan’s squad and was given the number one jersey going into 2022 ahead of Field, who was given the number two jersey. However, French was forced to miss a significant portion of the pre-season as well as the first few rounds of the 2022 Super League season due to a death in the family. Field filled in for French and has never looked back since taking over the position.

It would be one of the year’s greatest examples of understatement to say that the Australian is quick. The man who used to play for Paramatta appears to have jets and propellers attached to the back of his boots, and once he enters space, the competition is finished. I don’t see how Huddersfield will be able to keep a lid on Field for the full 80 minutes of this final match. Many have tried to stop Field finding broken space to utilize his freakish turn of foot this season, and many have failed to do so. Given that I have previously forecasted that this will be a close contest, one moment of brilliance might be all that is required to determine who will be the recipient of the illustrious old trophy. Even though he is the favorite at 7/2, Jai Field is still a good price to win the award for Man of the Match here. The man who is most likely to produce a moment like this is Jai Field.

For more information regarding the Challenger Cup Odds, click here

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