OKAY, hands up – who saw this coming?

The bookies certainly didn’t. Neither did the pundits and neither, as it turned out, did St Helens.

My oh my, how wrong they all were. The form book turned on its head by 17 heroes in primrose and blue.

Warrington Guardian:

Players and coaches alike spoke for weeks about “the plan” – a strategy that has been weeks in the making.

In many ways, it was a plan they wished they would never have to make – how on earth do you beat a juggernaut of a St Helens side without your marquee stand-off?

Ben Currie was the man slated to fill Blake Austin’s sizeable boots in the halves, but it became clear once the game kicked off that Jack Hughes would fill that role.

> PHOTO GALLERY: What scenes as Wire lift the Challenge Cup

Rather than be a force for creativity – although he did show impressive slight of hand to set up Ben Murdoch-Masila’s try – it was his job to ensure opposite number Jonny Lomax made no impact on the game.

Effectively given the role of man-marking the England man, he played his role the aplomb. He was not the only one either.

It was all part of a stripped-back, simplified Warrington game plan for which Steve Price deserves all the credit in the world.

> 'That was for the true believers,' says Price

They knew they could not beat Saints for style. It did not have to be pretty but it was mightily effective and the red-hot favourites were melting in the southern sunshine.

Granted, they rode their luck at times, particularly when referee Robert Hicks opted not to send a potential try for Morgan Knowles for further examination from video referee Ben Thaler.

If he had done, they would surely have come to the conclusion that Knowles grounded the ball in the in-goal and Saints would have had an early lead.

In temperatures nudging 30 degrees Celsius, this was not the weather to be chasing a game as Saints found out to their agonising cost.

> Wire players go wild in Wembley dressing room celebrations

That said, The Wire were not without their video referee injustices – the decision of Thaler to rule out a second-half Tom Lineham score because he thought a powerless Bryson Goodwin had obstructed Theo Fages having just played the ball seemed nonsensical at best.

Still, all of that proved immaterial. Nobody in either camp could deny that Warrington deserved their victory.

In Daryl Clark, they had a worthy winner of the Lance Todd Trophy. The Wire are truly blessed to have a player of his ability and consistency in such a key position.

The best hooker in the world? A case can certainly be made to say that.

Warrington Guardian:

> Lance Todd Trophy win caps a special day for Clark

Joe Philbin also produced another mammoth display from the bench, typified by his rampaging opening try, while the much-maligned Declan Patton came of age when the pressure was on him to deliver.

It truly was a squad effort, and this is a squad the town can be proud of.

No matter what happens in the next seven weeks or so, we all have something to remember the 2019 season by.

After so many disappointments in recent years, this was a day in the sun for our town.

This truly was a day to say “I was there.”

> Warrington Wolves to hold homecoming parade on Monday


. Wire’s first trophy under the charge of Steve Price

. Warrington’s first major trophy since 2012, fourth Challenge Cup title in 11 years

. First ever Challenge Cup Final meeting between Wire and Saints

. Daryl Clark’s 150th Warrington appearance


Challenge Cup Final

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Warrington Wolves...18 St Helens...4

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Josh Charnley, Toby King, Bryson Goodwin, Tom Lineham; Ben Currie, Declan Patton; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Jack Hughes, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Jason Clark. Subs: Sitaleki Akauola, Joe Philbin, Matt Davis, Jake Mamo

Saints: Lachlan Coote; Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace; Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages; Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Dom Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Morgan Knowles. Subs: Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Jack Ashworth, Joseph Paulo

Scoring: Philbin try, 25mins, Ratchford goal, 6-0; Murdoch-Masila try, 33mins, Ratchford goal, 0-12; Fages try, 56mins, 4-12; D Clark try, 73mins, Patton goal, 18-4

Penalties: Wolves 2 Saints 4

Referee: Robert Hicks

Attendance: 62,717