Having won the Challenge Cup himself with both Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos, Jamie Peacock knows just what it takes to prevail. Here he explains how he thinks Wigan could dump the holders out of the semi-finals.
St Helens are exceptionally ruthless: Wigan have the toughest assignment in northern hemisphere rugby league trying to beat them in the Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final.
But all great sides are beatable and I do think Wigan will win at Elland Road. Yes, Saints play at such an intensity and are relentless with just how long they keep that intensity in defence and attack. Everyone’s in position and knows the details and role. They have such discipline and are a brilliant team.
But there’s been plenty of Cup semi-final shocks before and I can see another one happening here. I saw enough in the Good Friday derby that Wigan have the game to beat St Helens. What Wigan need to do is make sure they convert: take all their chances.
Saints’ defence will give you only three or four opportunities in a match and you have to take those. With people like Jai Field and Bevan French, the speed Wigan have got in their outside backs means they have the potential to do that. If they get it right. They must perform for 80 minutes and it’ll need to be their best performance of the season – as individuals and as a collective.
Anything less will mean defeat. But I think they can – and will – raise their game against the best in the competition to win it. In the other semi, Huddersfield have shown they can compete with the best and very much look like an Ian Watson side now. They have nailed the basics exceptionally well but also have some trick plays in there.
Hull KR, though, are super entertaining to watch and when they are on, they are really on. They are outstanding to watch and I expect it to be a spectacular game – with KR winning. But kicking off the day at Elland Road on Saturday is the women’s Challenge Cup final between Saints and Leeds.
I’d love to see Rhinos win. They have past form of winning the Cup and have that muscle memory but I just think that Saints side is currently too strong. It pains me to say it but I think they’ll win it. However, having all three games on one day at the same venue is a great idea.
You see the quality of the game is higher when you have a larger crowd, more people watching and supporting, and that happens this way. It makes it a real proper event and the RFL and BBC need to be applauded for it. I loved playing in front of big crowds.
When playing at Elland Road, you knew it was a different stage to normal and there’d be more than 30,000 people there. You think to yourself ‘this is an event’ and you know you have to deliver. Big game atmospheres bring the best out of the better players, they tend to rise to the occasion and I expect plenty to do that on Saturday.
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