Warrington coach Tony Smith is predicting a mouth-watering Wembley final after watching his side demolish a depleted Wakefield 56-12 in the second Challenge Cup semi-final.
The Wolves’ reward for their 10-try rout is a first Cup final meeting for 102 years with Hull, the Super League table-toppers who clinched their spot with a 16-2 win over Wigan in Friday’s first semi-final.
The finalists finished in the top two places at the end of the 23-game regular season but it is Warrington who have been installed by the cup sponsors as 4-5 favourites despite conceding the double to Lee Radford’s men this year.
“It should be a good one,” Smith said. “They’ve been pretty good on us so far this year. That in itself makes it intriguing.
“It’s between two really well-followed clubs so it should make for an outstanding atmosphere and for the neutrals a really good game because we’re pretty evenly matched across the park.
“There’s some great match-ups, some big battles, it’s mouth-watering and we haven’t got long to wait.”
Centre Toby King, who only turned 20 earlier this month, scored two tries and Australian stand-off Kurt Gidley overcame an unspecified injury to contribute 18 points with a try and seven goals.
“It was a good performance all-round,” Smith said. “We pretty much dominated the middle part of the field. The ruck speed was good today and we took advantage of that.
“It was a great effort by the boys, they executed the plan well.
“I thought Wakefield never gave in but there was no stopping our boys today.
“There were a number of very good performers. I thought Chrissy Sandow was right up there, a lot of the things he did was top class, Ryan Atkins is back to some of his best and Matty Russell was outstanding.
“Gids (Kurt Gidley) went into the game under an injury cloud - he didn’t train much during the week - but he came through it really well and fortunately the scoreline enabled us to take some players off and rest them up for Thursday’s game against St Helens.”
Wakefield threatened to pull off a shock when they took the lead with Craig Hall’s fifth-minute try but the absence of a host of senior players through injury quickly took its toll.
“I’m proud with what they showed up out there,” coach Chris Chester said. “We tried hard all game, it wasn’t effort that beat us.
“Warrington were far too good for us. Once they got on a roll, they were too hard to stop. We weren’t great today but effort-wise we never gave in.
“They got a lot of joy through the middle. We were a little bit depleted in the middle with personnel missing but we struggled at times to slow them down without giving any penalties away. Fair play to Warrington they were too quick for us and a lot better team than us on the day.
“It’s important not to let it overshadow the season so far. There’s people disappointed with that but we’ve come a long way in a short space of time. We’ve got seven games to look forward to and we’ll try and cause some upsets.”
Chester revealed that captain Danny Kirmond defied a knee injury that had kept him out of the previous six matches to help him field a full complement of players.
“I sat three guys down yesterday before the team run,” Chester said. “We were down to 16 players and I needed someone to put their hand up and Kirmo did it.
“His knee is not right but he didn’t want to let the team down - that’s how bad the squad is. We’re without 12 at the moment but that shows the toughness and the character of Danny Kirmond to put his hand up.”