13th May 2019, 10:04 | ChallengeCup
The Sixth Round of the 2019 Coral Challenge Cup didn’t disappoint, and we take a look at some of the key talking points from the weekend’s action.
As soon as the Bradford were paired against their old foes Leeds for the Sixth Round everyone immediately asked the question ‘could they do it?’ and they answered that with an emphatic yes on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulls put in a phenomenal display in front of a packed Odsal Stadium to dump the Rhinos out of the Challenge Cup. Bradford – who hadn’t faced the Rhinos since 2014 – have had their downs in recent years however this is a moment that could very well spark the revival of the Bulls.
Despite falling behind after just three minutes, Bradford’s determination to cause a memorable upset was too much for the Rhinos. Liam Sutcliffe’s late conversion attempt coming back of the post both compounded Leeds’ misery and sent the Odsal terraces into celebration.
And, it wouldn’t be fair to talk about the Bulls’ victory without discussing the Challenge Cup mastermind that is John Kear. Bradford’s Head Coach has forged a reputation for the remarkable in the Challenge Cup after winning the competition with Sheffield Eagles in 1998 and Hull FC in 2005 and leading the Bulls to this huge cup upset only adds to his legacy.
Could he do the unthinkable and take Bradford to Wembley?
On Friday evening, Halifax overcame fellow Championship club Dewsbury to book their place in the quarter finals for the first time since 2002.
It was a relatively comfortable victory in the end for Halifax who ran out 6-34 winners at the Tetley’s Stadium. Chester Butler and James Saltonstall both notched braces alongside tries from James Woodburn-Hall and Shaun Robinson to round off a memorable evening for Halifax.
There has been a period of transition at Halifax in recent weeks following the decision to part with long-standing Head Coach Richard Marshall. However, temporary boss Simon Grix has managed to win consecutive Championship fixtures before now guiding Halifax to the last eight of the Challenge Cup.
‘Fax will now face another Championship club in Bradford in the quarter finals meaning that one second-tier side will compete in the semi-finals.
Whenever Warrington and Wigan come together it rarely disappoints and Sunday was no different. Steve Price’s Wire edged out Adrian Lam’s Warriors 26-24 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in an end-to-end encounter.
Wigan took an early lead thanks to Sam Powell, but it was Warrington who went into the interval ahead. A Ryan Atkins try midway through the second half looked to have put Warrington in control, but Wigan refused to lie down, as they always do in the Challenge Cup, drawing back level.
In the end, it was a Stefan Ratchford penalty goal 12 minutes from time which separated the sides.
Warrington have featured in five finals over the last decade but haven’t won the competition since 2012. There is no doubting a victory over rivals Wigan will give them all the confidence they need that they can be crowned champions at Wembley once more.
Since Castleford’s 2014 Wembley appearance the Challenge Cup hasn’t been kind to Daryl Powell’s men and that continued on Friday evening as Hull FC cast them aside at the KCOM Stadium.
Castleford haven’t managed to progress past the quarter finals since 2014 and have now been knocked out by FC three times in four seasons.
As for FC, they won the competition in consecutive seasons in 2016 and 2017 and could well be on their way to Wembley again in 2019. Bureta Faraimo, Jake Connor, Albert Kelly and Mark Minichiello were all on the scoresheet as the Airlie Birds moved on to the quarter finals.
Hull will be looking to etch their name onto the famous trophy again in 2019.
Current Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons began their defence of the title in style with a dominant 62-6 victory over League One Doncaster in Perpignan. The Dons put up a spirited effort as the lowest-ranked side left in the competition.
St Helens’ aim to make their first Wembley appearance since 2008 got underway albeit in difficult fashion at Huddersfield. Saints’ back-line was in fine form again however with Regan Grace, Theo Fages, Lachlan Coote and Kevin Naiqama all crossing.
On Friday evening, Wakefield Trinity managed to avoid an upset against Championship Widnes Vikings with the help of three tries inside the last ten minutes. Trinity haven’t featured at Wembley since 1979 and St Helens now stand in their way.
2015 finalists Hull Kingston Rovers managed to knock fellow Super League side Salford Red Devils out on Saturday afternoon at the AJ Bell Stadium. The Red Devils led at half-time but a terrific second half performance earned the Robins a quarter final spot.