Key cup battles

Last Updated: 27/08/08 6:06pm

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Berrigan: Key man for Hull

Berrigan: Key man for Hull

Sky Bet

Only Hull stand in the way of St Helens completing a hat-trick of Challenge Cup wins on Saturday.

Saints secured the first final back at Wembley last year when they saw off the challenge of Les Catalans in front of over 84,000 people.

Now it is the turn of the Airlie Birds to try and upset the favourites in the showpiece event.

Ahead of the big match, skysports.com takes a look at some of the key battles that could decide who ends up with the silverware after the 80 minutes...

HALF-BACK

St Helens look to have all the aces in Leon Pryce and Sean Long, who have been in supreme form this year. Since his move from Bradford, Pryce has become an accomplished stand-off with his deceptive pace and silky skills while Long's superb kicking game and tactical nous show no sign of being on the wane.

Hull will move heaven and earth to make sure experienced Australian scrum-half Adam Dykes is fit after his semi-final heroics against Wakefield and coach Richard Agar will be hoping for a big game from Danny Washbrook, who has performed admirably at stand-off despite playing out of position. Richard Horne remains a long shot after four months out with a neck injury.

DUMMY HALF

Shaun Berrigan has played centre, stand-off and scrum-half during his first season with injury-hit Hull but the former Brisbane and Queensland star is at his best at hooker, where can get his side on the front foot with his quick service from the ruck.

Evergreen Keiron Cunningham goes into his eighth Cup final on the back of some of the best form of his career. His decision-making is second to none in the game and his blockbusting trademark runs are lethal. Saints also have a superb replacement in James Roby, who turned last year's final against Catalans from the bench.

FRONT ROW

Still only 22, Liverpudlian James Graham has emerged as a world-class forward this year, carrying the mantle for St Helens during the absence of Nathan Cayless and Nick Fozzard, who are now back to take some of the pressure off the youngster. Bryn Hargreaves, who missed out a year ago, and Maurie Fa'asavalu, battling with a hamstring injury, add to an impressive front-row arsenal for the holders.

Hull will rely heavily up front on England forwards Ewan Dowes and Garreth Carvell, who are solid, reliable performers, while Australian Peter Cusack provides good support, along with bench men Jamie Thackray and youngster Scott Wheeldon.

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