17th March 2017, 12:55 | ChallengeCup
Toulouse come face to face with Batley for the second time this season, following their 44-6 win in Round 1 of the Kingstone Press Championship.
The French side are currently unbeaten at their home ground, the Stade Arnaune so far this season and Coach Sylvain Houles is hoping to maintain this on Saturday.
He said: “We played Batley in the opening round of the season and despite the score it was a really difficult game. They’re a good team and we know they’re going to come out here this weekend and try to test us.”
In 2016, Toulouse beat then fellow League 1 side University of Gloucestershire All Golds at this stage of the tournament and went on to defeat Leigh Centurions 10-8 in Round 5 to reach the sixth round.
Houles continued, “Last year we had a good run in the competition but this year is a little bit different. We’re now involved in the Championship and that’s a tougher competition and this weekend it’ll be good for us to be able to test the depth of our squad.
“Some of our young boys are probably going to be making their debut and it’s really exciting to see how they’re going to play.
“The Challenge Cup is a knock out game, we have experience of those type of games and we like to play them. We’re really looking forward to it and hopefully we’ll come up with the win.”
Batley Bulldogs head coach Matt Diskin is looking forward to heading out to France to face Toulouse again. On the fixture he said, “We were really excited when we watched the draw and found out we’d face them again, it gives us an opportunity to right a wrong from earlier this year.
“Toulouse are a very good team and when we went out there before our preparation was good but we got caught cold. Hopefully there’ll be no surprises for us this time.
“The Ladbrokes Challenge Cup is a prestigious competition for anybody. Myself and most of the players will probably remember watching it on the BBC with our grandparents.
“It’s a fantastic event and for us to be part of it is great but there’s no point just being part of it for the sake of it. We really want to compete and progress as far as we can and that starts on Saturday.”
Oldham take on Haydock RLFC in the early Saturday kick-off (1.00pm – live streamed on BBC Sport website) before Swinton Lions face London Skolars at Heywood Road (3.00pm) and Keighley Cougars travel to Barrow Raiders (6.30pm).
Bradford Bulls have a rich history of Challenge Cup success and last won the coveted trophy in 2003. Acting head coach Leigh Beattie said, “The Challenge Cup is massive for the club, everyone involved loves the competition and that opportunity to get Wembley.
“It’s always good to go into a game on the back of a win and after last weekend’s game against Batley our confidence is pretty high. That being said, it’ll be a tough game for us against Featherstone.
“A lot of our loan players are obviously cup tied so we’ll be without them for the game. It does give us an opportunity to test the depth of our squad though as a number of our under 19s will probably play.”
Featherstone Rovers are currently on a run of good form with five wins out of six games in the Kingstone Press Championship and will be hoping to continue with a Challenge Cup win against Bradford on Sunday. Coach Jon Sharp said, “The win over Sheffield I felt represented something of a response from our boys, but there is plenty more to come from this team - and it will.
“The game against Bradford is shaping up as a mouthwatering tie – and it is one we are looking forward to.
“This club has a proud history of Challenge Cup success, taking part in it certainly means a great deal to the players and staff.
“Bradford are beginning to find their feet and gain some momentum. Their win over Batley was a massive step forward for them and they will be looking to kick on against us.
“We are expecting a very difficult test. Going to Odsal is never easy, particularly in a knock-out game.
“We very much want to progress, the Challenge Cup is a competition we want to go well in this year, alongside our league campaign.
“We recognise Bradford’s threats and I am sure they will be reviewing our threats closely too.
“It is a cliche, but a try one - we need to look after our own performance and not allow the Bulls into an arm wrestle with us.
“We want to go as far as we possibly can in terms of cup progression. Playing against Super League opposition in the next few rounds would certainly benefit us heading into the Qualifiers, which is where we want to be come July.”
In the remaining, Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fixtures two more Championship teams come head to head when Hull KR take on Sheffield Eagles at the KCOM Craven Park (3.00pm).
Whitehaven face Oxford RLFC in the earlier Sunday kick-off (2.00pm), Halifax take on Hunslet at The Shay (3.00pm) and University of Gloucestershire All Golds travel to Doncaster RLFC (3.00pm).
The final Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fourth round fixture is between York City Knights and Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm).