St. Helens 12 Wigan 6 (VIEW MATCH)
1961 Challenge Cup final
A masterly performance
Both the Saints and Wigan had fantastic squads to choose from for their first-ever Challenge Cup final encounter at Wembley stadium and the teams seemed very well matched indeed. It was all a question of what…or who, would ‘give’ in the tense atmosphere, compounded by one of the warmest days in Cup final history.
Alex Murphy scores
It proved to be a fantastic game for the fans, very fast and open on the lush Wembley turf, but Saints had the upper hand with the sheer power of their ‘back three’ forwards, Don Vines and Dick Huddart in the second row and skipper Vince Karalius at loose forward. It was Huddart who set Alex Murphy up for the first try in the 32nd minute, which gave Saints a crucial lead after Griffiths had booted over an early penalty for the Riversiders.
An Austin Rhodes penalty made it 5-2 at half-time for St. Helens, who returned to the dressing rooms for a special drink of lemonade, water and salt!
Griffiths kicked another shortly after the interval to reduce the deficit to one point and then the defining moment came, in the 63rd minute. After a Wigan attack broke down in the Saints’ quarter, winger Tom van Vollenhoven picked up and set off on a scorching 30 yard run. Seeing several defenders in front of him, he passed inside to his centre, Ken Large, who took the move on and gave Vollenhoven a perfectly-timed return pass to enable him to surge between the posts for a brilliant try. Full-back Austin Rhodes added the conversion – and another penalty later - as did Griffiths for Wigan a minute before the final whistle, but at 12-6, the Challenge Cup headed for Knowsley Road. Wigan had several chances to score during the match, but it just wasn’t their day!