Warrington’s Daryl Clark says their shock Challenge Cup final win over Super League leaders St Helens was inspired after enduring an equally big upset at 12 months ago.

In 2018, Clark suffered a third final defeat when Wire were beaten by Catalans – but recognises they went into that game feeling too complacent.

Warrington have lost all three of their previous league meetings in 2019.

“Saints have been getting the accolades and all the media attention,” he said.

“I’ve had a good feeling all week. We knew that we could flip it on its head, coming in as underdogs.

“It was Tom Lineham who spoke up in the meeting we had on Friday night about how last year we were massive favourites and the way we felt maybe made us a bit arrogant.

“Looking back It affected us as favourites. Coming here with a feeling that we’d already got it won.”

Warrington had gone on an an untimely run of five straight defeats going into the final and were nursing several wounded players – including injured prize asset Blake Austin.

For Clark himself, after also losing here with his former club Castleford in 2014 (to Leeds) and again with Warrington in 2016 (to Hull), he even capped off another outstanding individual display with his side’s match-sealing third try – just seconds after the votes had been collected up in the press box to score him the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match.

“I’ve lost three times here and it’s heartbreaking,” he said. “So to win is special and to score even better as I don’t get many tries these days. And to win the Lance Todd is the icing on the cake.”

Warrington had a lot of heroes

Daryl Clark celebrates try

Clark’s Lance Todd award came after being one of six different selected nominees – and all were Warrington players.

“That sounds about right,” said jubilant coach Steve Price, after winning his first trophy as Wire coach. “That’s the best performance since I’ve been at the club. I could have picked any number of them.

“We haven’t been playing great football of late but I knew we had the players to play like this and put their bodies on the line the way they did in that heat. The lads were out on their feet.

“For Jack Hughes to come back after a ruptured testicle and put in a performance like that was amazing. Stefan Ratchford was great and Dec Patton deserves a special mention too. And Daryl Clark was a true warrior. He covered nearly every blade of grass.

“It was a very hollow feeling last year. But this feels a lot better. Saints have been the most consistent side over the last 18 months. They’re number one in offence and defend by a country mile and it took something special from my team to not only beat them but keep them down to four points.”

Price also played down the loss of Austin – and the rumour mill that sprung up around whether he might in fact still play.

“I don’t know what all the uproar was about,” he said. “The players knew the 1-19 from Tuesday and we named it on Thursday. It was unfortunate that Blake missed out but the players who stepped up were outstanding.”

Morgan Knowles ‘try’ decision was “massive”

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook knows that his side have an ideal chance to atone for their disappointment by going on to win this year’s Super League Grand Final, sifting 16 points clear at the top, having already claimed the League Leaders’ Shield.

But, although he acknowledged that Warrington were the better team at , Holbrook was left perplexed by referee Rob Hicks’ crucial ruling not to refer Saints’ claims for an early try for Morgan Knowles to his video assessor.

“That was a massive decision,” Holbrook told BBC Sport. “You’d be filthy if that happened in a regular game of , never mind a cup final.

“I don’t want it to sound like sour grapes and take anything away from Warrington as they were brilliant and the game was a great showcase for . But I still can’t get my head round why he didn’t go upstairs and check on a decision like that.

“The second try we had disallowed was more of a 50/50 call. The sort that go against you when it isn’t your day.

“But while I’m disappointed to lose, I’m proud of my players. The better side won, which is all anyone could have asked for at the start of the day.

“We threw everything at them and made mistakes chasing the game in 30 degree heat. But it was at its best.”


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