Every Challenge Cup Final has at least one star. That one player who grabs the game by the scruff of the neck and writes their own story, their own fairytale of Wembley glory.
Sometimes it’s a scrum-half conducting his orchestra to create sweet symphonies of victory, a prop who has destroyed defences again and again or an exhilarating back scoring tries you didn’t think were possible. They’re all special and it’s a privilege to watch them.
But who has produced the very best Challenge Cup Final performances in the Super League era? Well, it’s time to find out as we give you our top five best individual Challenge Cup Final performances.
5. Kallum Watkins 2015
In Leeds’ record-breaking win back in 2015, everyone quite rightly jumped to the performance Tom Briscoe put in. Five tries is hard to look beyond on any occasion let alone in a Challenge Cup Final. However, they forget the brilliance of the man inside him that day: Kallum Watkins. He tore Hull KR apart with his direct running, silky passing and awareness of what was in front of him and outside him. Three of Briscoe’s five tries were thanks to Watkins and the Leeds centre also conjured up the break that led to Rob Burrow’s score.
4. Mark Ashton 1998
He masterminded the biggest Wembley upset of the Super League era. Opponents Wigan only lost two league games all season both of which were against second-place Leeds. In fact, the Warriors only lost three matches in all of 1998 and one was at the hands of Ashton at Wembley. He came up with five points in the capital as he marshalled his side expertly. He frustrated Wigan and compounded their anxieties as the trophy they were expected to win slipped through their fingers.
3. Jeff Lima 2011
How many props can claim to have scored a brace at Wembley? Bizarrely, one third of Lima’s tries in a Wigan shirt came at Wembley. In 2011, he helped lead the Warriors to Challenge Cup Final victory over Leeds by 28 points to 18 with his tries proving the difference. In a final where forwards like Jamie Peacock were expected to steal the show, he was explosive and powerful and came up with the game breaking moments.
2. Marc Sneyd 2016
In one of the greatest Challenge Cup Finals ever, it was Marc Sneyd who conjured up the Hull FC fightback to end the club’s wait for Wembley victory. With the Black and Whites trailing 10-0, he decided to change things. He created Hull’s two tries with superb kicks and led the club to glory when it seemed so unlikely.
1. Tom Briscoe 2015
What is it with Leeds wingers and Challenge Cup Finals? In 1999, Leroy Rivett took home the Lance Todd trophy with four tries, Ryan Hall showed his class in 2014 with two impossible tries but how can you look past Tom Briscoe in 2015? The Rhinos winger scored a record five tries plenty of which took some scoring. His first two showed his skill, speed, strength and smarts and took the game well away from Hull KR as it left the eventual treble winners 22-0 ahead.