Challenge Cup final: Leeds Rhinos 18-35 Warrington Wolves
Leeds (10) 18
- Tries: I Kirke, K Watkins 2
- Goals: K Sinfield 3
Warrington (12) 35
- Tries: J Monaghan, T Waterhouse, C Riley, R Atkins, T McCarthy, B Hodgson
- Goals: Hodgson 5
Warrington Wolves won the Challenge Cup for a third time in four years, beating Leeds to inflict more Wembley misery on the Rhinos.
Joel Monaghan and Trent Waterhouse put Warrington 12-10 up at half-time, with Ian Kirke replying for Leeds.
Chris Riley, Tyrone McCarthy and Ryan Atkins then added further Wire scores.
Two late tries from Kallum Watkins proved academic as Lance Todd Trophy winner Brett Hodgson crossed to seal Warrington's victory.
Wolves full-back Hodgson also kicked five goals to be named as man of the match.
Leeds, Wembley runners-up three years on the trot, have now lost in each of their last six final appearances and their 13-year wait for Challenge Cup victory continues.
Just eight days earlier, Warrington, having rested only a handful of their Wembley line-up, were embarrassingly battered 62-18 by London Broncos at The Stoop.
But, on their return to the capital, Tony Smith's men showed their class on the big day.
Smith twice coached Leeds to Grand Final glory in 2004 and 2007, but although that honour has so far eluded him in his three attempts to date with Warrington, he has at least been able to earn success in rugby league's other major domestic competition, by adding to the Wolves' victories over Huddersfield in 2009 and Leeds in 2010.
Leeds looked to have the edge in the early skirmishes, yet it was Warrington who went ahead on seven minutes.
Ben Westwood's offload kept the ball alive from a scrum near the halfway line, Richie Myler cashing in on the space to unleash a precisely-placed bomb to the right corner.
Winger Monaghan caught it at full stretch before diving for the line in one movement to claim his 54th try in 52 appearances for Wire, Hodgson making light of being so close to the touchline by smoothly adding the extras.
Challenge Cup final statistics
- Warrington now have the edge over Leeds in Challenge Cup finals as the Wolves have won two of the three finals between the teams.
- Leeds have become only the second team to lose three Challenge Cup finals in a row (Hull FC were the first in 1908-10) and are the first to lose three consecutive finals at Wembley.
- Joel Monaghan, scorer of Warrington's opening try, crossed at least once in every round of the 2012 competition.
- Chris Riley's second-half try was the 99th of his career (97 for Warrington, two for Harlequins).
- Warrington's 35 points was the highest total by a winning Challenge Cup final side at Wembley since Leeds' 52-16 win over London Broncos in 1999.
The thunderclouds over Wembley seemed to warn that the Wolves were on the rampage - and their continued pressure looked likely to earn more reward. But, when the heavens finally opened in north-west London 10 minutes later, it was to mark a Leeds try.
Kirke powered his way over from Sinfield's pass to snake his arm over the line to score from close range, his first try of the season, the Leeds captain duly converting.
And, as both teams soldiered gamely under an untimely August Bank Holiday weekend deluge, when Wire substitute Paul Wood's straight right caught Leeds centre Carl Ablett squarely on the jaw on 23 minutes, the resulting punishment was Sinfield adding another two points with a penalty to earn the Rhinos an 8-6 lead.
But, on 29 minutes, Warrington were back in front, Australian forward Waterhouse charging over after quick hands from Michael Monaghan and Myler, Hodgson routinely converting to make it 12-8.
It looked another try might be on the cards two minutes from the break when Monaghan gathered Sinfield's crossfield bomb to the left corner, eluded the Rhinos' cover and set off in pursuit of the try-line. But, on the intervention of the touch judge, play was brought back to where, in trying to gather Sinfield's kick, Ryan Hall had been obstructed by Lee Briers.
And the penalty gave Sinfield the chance to reduce the half-time deficit to just 12-10.
Although the rainstorm came to an end during the interval, there was no let-up in the pounding of the tackles - as demonstrated by Leeds prop Kylie Leuluai's hit on a dazed Hodgson three minutes after the restart.
The ball ran loose, allowing Brett Delaney to gallop for the line, but video referee Phil Bentham eventually ruled 'no try' for Leuluai's unwitting knock-on, rather than for the challenge itself or Delaney being in an offside position. It proved to be a match-turning moment.
Rather than Leeds recapturing the lead, Wire stretched further clear on 49 minutes when Hodgson and Ryan Atkins created the space for winger Riley to nip in at the right corner.
Hodgson pulled the conversion left of the posts but, just six minutes later, it looked like 'game over' when, from another stunning Hodgson pass, Warrington top scorer Atkins also went in at the right corner.
Having missed the first of those two touchline kicks, Hodgson succeeded with the second to earn Smith's men a 22-10 lead. And, when Tyrone McCarthy dived over for the last of three Wire tries in 10 minutes, Hodgson added another.
Briers landed a drop goal before centre Kallum Watkins raced clear to claim the first of two late consolation tries. But, in between, man of the match Hodgson stole the show, charging over for a try of his own before adding the goal to complete an individual 14-point haul.
SATURDAY'S WEMBLEY LINE-UPS
Leeds: Hardaker; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Ablett, Hall; Sinfield (capt), Ward; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Bailey.
Subs: Kirke, Lunt, Griffin, Keinhorst.
Warrington: Hodgson; Riley, Atkins, Ratchford, J Monaghan; Briers, Myler; Carvell, Higham, Hill, Waterhouse, Westwood, Harrison.
Subs: Morley (capt), Monaghan, Wood, McCarthy.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).