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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 August 2006, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Dave Woods Cup final verdict

By Dave Woods at Twickenham

Maurie Fa'asavalu
Maurie Fa'asavalu gave Huddersfield all sorts of problems
It had the potential to be one of the best Challenge Cup finals we have seen after the first 30 minutes.

But instead it ended up being one of the finest team performances we have witnessed in rugby league's showpiece event.

It was so admirable the way Huddersfield went firing into St Helens from the opening kick-off.

They rattled their opponents and their big-name players, suggesting something sensational might be about to unfold.

But Saints showed just why they are such as class side by soaking up the early pressure and then taking control of the game.

Sean Long will have to be considered one of the game's greats after becoming the first player in history to receive the Lance Todd Trophy three times.

But I don't think he was the only outstanding candidate amongst the Saints players.

Maurie Fa'asavalu made a huge impact off the bench, ripping big holes in the Huddersfield defence.

After the disappointing final of 2001, there were signs on Saturday that rugby league is starting to warm to the home of rugby union

Jon Wilkin showed the type of bravery we have come to expect in rugby league by ignoring the pain of a broken nose to play a key role for his side.

And Jamie Lyon very nearly set a new individual points record in a Challenge Cup final thanks to his try and seven successful conversions.

Huddersfield's Brad Drew also stood out, giving Saints plenty of problems with his eye for a gap in the opening 20 minutes.

So did Paul Reilly. He got smashed early on but then pulled off one of the greatest tackles ever seen in a final to stop Ade Gardner from racing to the line.

As for Chris Thorman, well, we did not see the best of him.

Huddersfield showed plenty of commitment in the opening exchanges
Huddersfield showed plenty of commitment in the opening exchanges
He had been a major doubt in the run-up to the game but was always going to find it hard to shine in the face of some serious pressure from Saints.

Huddersfield can take a lot of credit for the way they performed. The key now for them is retaining their place in Super League.

I think they will achieve their objective. They showed in their last league game against Wigan, when they lost 14-10, that they have the necessary character to avoid the drop.

Finally, a note on Twickenham.

After the disappointing final of 2001, there were signs on Saturday that rugby league is starting to warm to the home of rugby union.

The kind of fast-flowing action on view was a treat to watch.

It must have been a joy for any neutrals in the crowd.



SEE ALSO
Huddersfield 12-42 St Helens
26 Aug 06 |  Challenge Cup
Record-breaker Long in dreamland
26 Aug 06 |  Challenge Cup
Defeated Sharp has no complaints
26 Aug 06 |  Challenge Cup
Challenge Cup final as it happened
26 Aug 06 |  Challenge Cup
Challenge Cup final photos
26 Aug 06 |  Photo Galleries


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