Leeds Rhinos: Challenge Cup could not have gone better – Danny McGuire

Tom Briscoe. PIC: Simon Hulme
Tom Briscoe. PIC: Simon Hulme
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I’M NOT sure last weekend could have gone any better.

To win a Challenge Cup final 50-0 – and go into the last 20 minutes knowing the result is in the bag – was more than anyone could hope for.

It was a brilliant weekend. The Challenge Cup holds so many special memories for me as a kid growing up and it is such a special competition, to be able to win it back-to-back – after so many disappointments – is definitely one of my career highlights.

The way we went about it was very clinical and methodical.

A lot of planning went into the week and the match and the coaching staff came up with a game plan which we carried out pretty well.

We managed to shut Hull KR down defensively when they had the ball and for the most part we kept them away from our tryline, then when we got into good field position we were quite clinical.

We have been in decent form for a few weeks and it was pleasing to come up with a good performance on the big stage, when we needed it.

Someone said to me that if it wasn’t for our world-class wingers, I would have won a Lance Todd trophy by now.

I was second in the voting to Hally last year and Tom Briscoe at the weekend.

But I don’t think anyone could complain about somebody who scores five tries at Wembley being named man of the match.

His finishing was brilliant and he’s in great form, but I thought JP (Jamie Peacock) and Kallum Watkins were outstanding as well, along with all the back-row, Stevie (Ward), Frog (Brett Delaney) and Carl (Ablett).

It was just a good all-round team performance.

Cup finals are all about winning and from our point of view, we just needed to get the job done.

We’ve lost a few in recent years and we know how Hull KR must have been feeling at the end.

It’s an unforgiving place to lose.

When the final whistle goes you are out on the pitch, surrounded by the other team celebrating and you’re not sure what to do. You just want to get out of there and lick your wounds.

Hull KR will be hurting now, but they did well to get to the final, beating some good teams along the way and I think they’ll be better for the experience in the long-run.

Their supporters were brilliant and it was good to see them stay behind to cheer their team at the end.

Our fans were fantastic as well, as they have been all year.

It was a good crowd and a brilliant atmosphere, maybe the best I’ve experienced at Wembley.

We know the Cup final is not a cheap day or weekend away and we really do appreciate every one of the fans who went down there and gave us such superb backing from start to finish. Thank you.

The homecoming was good too. With it being on the Sunday, the day after the final, I wasn’t sure how many people would be there, but it was a great turnout and it brought home how much the Cup means to the fans as well as us as players.

From a team point of view, the homecoming was the end of the Challenge Cup.

It’s important to enjoy the moment and celebrate, but there’s still work to do and we’ve got a big game tonight.

It’s always a big match when we play Saints and I think they will fancy it after a couple of weeks’ rest. They won’t want to lose to us four times in a season and it’s a massive game for them with the way the league table is at the moment.

We lost to them in the game after Wembley last year and our season went off the rails from there. We don’t want to let that happen again. We’re in a good position and we want to push for the league leaders’ shield and then a place in the Grand Final.

I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a bit tired, emotionally and physically, after the Cup final.

It does take a lot out of you and we’ve got one or two niggles from the game, but we have trained well this week and we are fired up to put in a good performance tonight.

If we do, we’ll give ourselves a good chance of getting the points.