Whitehaven RLFC v Halifax RLFC – Sunday, April 23 (3.00pm)
Whitehaven RLFC will be hoping for a fourth consecutive win across all competitions this week when they welcome Halifax to the Recreation Ground.
After overcoming West Hull and Oxford in the previous rounds, the Kingstone Press League 1 team face their toughest test when they come head to head with Halifax.
Last weekend, Whitehaven claimed bragging rights in Kingstone Press League 1 with a close 20-24 victory over local rivals Workington.
Talking about the win coach Carl Forster said, “It was relief more than anything, especially in the manner we won it.
“I don’t think Workington will lose many games there this season and the crowd in a derby make life a little bit harder.
“In pre-season, we were beaten twice by them so it was nice to get off the mark and snatch the win.”
Ahead of their Ladbrokes Challenge Cup game against Halifax, Forster continued, “We’ve won three on the bounce now and our last defeat before that was against Toronto Wolfpack and it was quite a credible defeat.
“We’ve got a similar mindset going in to the game against Halifax, all the pressure is on them and we’ve got nothing to lose as a club and a group of players.
“It’s a big game for me as a coach, just to see how we go against a classier outfit and a team that are in a league above and are going well at the moment.
“They’re a top outfit and they’re well coached so we’ve got to be at our very best to beat them.
“It’s helpful that we’ve played them before though, it gives us some experience and confidence going in to the game. At least we’re not going in to the unknown, we know the pace of the game and what the likes of Scott Murrell and Steve Tyrer can bring.
“I’ll be calling in our more experience lads this weekend to deal with that.
“It definitely helps being at home, the journey over here isn’t nice and it’s always a tough place to go regardless whether you’re playing us, Workington or Barrow so that’s certainly to our advantage this weekend.
“They’ve got top class players that will be hard to deal with but I’d rather have home advantage than go to Halifax.
“It’ll be a big confidence boost if we can progress to the next round, it’ll prove to us what we can actually do in League 1 if we could take a scalp from Halifax. It will be proof we can beat anyone on our day and see how far we can go this year.
“We’ll just go out there and do our best and hopefully our best is good enough.”
Halifax currently sit in fifth position in the Kingstone Press Championship table. Over the Easter weekend Halifax secured two wins, first against Bradford Bulls on Good Friday and a close 16-14 win against Oldham on Easter Monday.
Coach Richard Marshall said, “We were pleased with our Friday performance against our local rivals Bradford. We put in a massive effort, both teams went at it and fortunately we had enough on the day to win.
“I thought on Monday we were a bit fatigued, both teams made quite a lot of errors but again we got in to a 14-0 lead and then changed the team around and ended up 16-14 winners. Two wins over Easter though is important and puts us in a good position.”
Speaking ahead of Halifax’s trip to Whitehaven, Marshall continued, “We want to put a couple of decent halves of rugby together this weekend when we face them.
“We know from playing them last year up in Whitehaven when we drew 12-all that it’s a difficult place to play.
“They’ve still got the majority of that team together, I know they’re in the league below us but we’ve still got a lot of respect for the club, I know they’re going to be a difficult task for us.
“We’re confident going in to the game, we’re in a good spot with our team and we’ll be looking to progress to the next round but we know it’ll be challenging.
“They’ll be talking about their derby win, for them to go to Workington and win is a massive effort.
“I’m hopeful our players can deal with the extra game we had, we won’t play anyone who isn’t 100% fit so we’ll utilise our squad this week.
“We want to progress to the next round, we have a lot of respect for the Challenge Cup and it’s been 30 years since Halifax last lifted the trophy so we’re looking forward to it.
“We want to see how far we can go in the competition. We certainly want to win this game and preparing our best for this week’s game.”
You can watch the Whitehaven v Halifax live on the BBC Sport website on Sunday, April 23 (3.00pm).
Also in action in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup this weekend are Leeds Rhinos, who take on Kingstone Press League 1 side Doncaster RLFC at Headingley tonight (8.00pm).
Leigh Centurions come head to head with Hull Kingston Rovers on Saturday at Leigh Sports Village (3.00pm).
On Sunday in the early kick-offs, Salford Red Devils take on League 1 side Toronto Wolfpack (12.15pm) and Huddersfield Giants face Swinton Lions (12.30pm).
Dewsbury Rams face Batley Bulldogs for the second weekend running and will be hoping for a repeat performance of last week’s Kingstone Press Championship victory, as York City Knights take on Barrow Raiders in the only all League 1 tie of the round and Featherstone Rovers welcome Oldham to The LD Nutrition stadium.
All kick-off times are 3.00pm unless stated.
Tickets for the 2017 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, August 26. Buy early and save 15% off adult tickets (until Tuesday, June 6) and Junior tickets from just £5. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Rugby League Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugby-league.com/tickets.