Rugby League

Challenge Cup

22 Feb 2024

Battle of the Cousins | Betfred Challenge Cup Round 4

Battle of the Cousins | Betfred Challenge Cup Round 4

The magic of the Betfred Challenge Cup continues this Sunday when Betfred Championship heavyweights Wakefield Trinity host current National Conference League (NCL) Premier Champions Hunslet ARLFC.

This weekend will see Round 4's ties played across both Saturday and Sunday, with four community clubs still in with a shot of reaching the Fifth Round. One of these clubs includes Hunslet ARLFC, who will have the opportunity to test themselves against top opposition when they travel to the DIY Kitchens Stadium to face Daryl Powell's rejuvenated Trinity - and it promises to be a great occasion.

But there is one rugby league family who will be divided for 80 minutes on Sunday as this Fourth Round tie will see an exciting battle of the cousins unfold, as former Super League sensation Luke Gale takes on his much-loved, younger cousin Jordan Gale, who has also been enjoying an array of success with the newly-merged Hunslet ARLFC.

Hunslet ARLFC hold a remarkable story. Formed in late 2022 as a merger of Hunslet Club Parkside and Hunslet Warriors amateur teams, the club went on to dominate the Premier Division of the NCL in 2023, winning 19 out of 22 matches to clinch the League Leaders’ Shield, before an epic showdown in the NCL Grand Final against West Hull to be crowned Champions.

They will be hoping to reiterate this success once more in 2024, and similarly, Wakefield will be hoping to lay down a marker as they look to be the top side in the Championship this year, with their quest back to Super League starting next month.

But for now, the focus turns to the Challenge Cup competition on Sunday and it’s going to be a head to head in the halves when the two cousins take to the same rugby league field in opposite teams. This will be for the first time ever as they will go on to contest against each other for a place in the Fifth Round.

Jordan Gale, who plays at the influential number 6 for Hunslet ARLFC and currently holds the record for most points scored in the club’s colours, reflected on his side's short but successful history:

“We came into the merge really open-minded. Hunslet Club Parkside had already enjoyed a lot of success, but this has been really great for the club, and our aim this year is to do the same again and go back to back.”

“We keep having a lot of new players come down as well, which is great to see.”

This will be Hunslet ARLFC’s second year featuring in the prestigious Challenge Cup competition, and they have already equalled last year’s record of reaching the Fourth Round.

2024 so far has seen the Leeds-based community club enjoy a dominant 66-0 win over Fryston Warriors in Round 2, before travelling to Lock Lane and beating them 46-6 in the Third Round to line up a game against Wakefield. And they are on the road for a third consecutive time, as they travel to this eagerly-awaited cup trip on Sunday:

“We’ve had a bit of cup success – we travelled to Fryston and put in a really good performance. And then we had to go to Lock Lane away a few weeks ago, and they’re always a tough team to go to. It’s a tough place there.

“It was a tough game, but we came through in the second half.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s cup clash, Jordan admits he is excited for the challenge that awaits, and is relishing the chance to face his cousin on the field for the first time:

“I used to travel all over and watch Luke playing all the time. He plays on the left and I play on the right. We're literally going to be opposite each other, so it’ll be great to play against him.”

Owing to a tight turnaround between rounds three and four, the Round 4 draw was drawn on an ‘either/or’ basis, which meant that both Jordan and Luke already knew there was a possibility their two sides could meet in the Fourth Round.

“We watched it off my phone,” Jordan said. “I'd already said I wanted to draw Luke for Round 3, but I didn’t realise that they were doing the Round 4 draw too.

“Then when they said Siddal or Wakefield v Lock Lane v Hunslet [ARLFC] - I thought get in! And that was it, I thought we’ve got to beat Lock Lane, as it would be great to go to Wakefield – for the experience as well.”

Likewise, Luke Gale, who has over 250 Super League appearances under his belt and is a former Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner, was also excited at a potential chance to play against his cousin:

“I can remember texting him [Jordan] straight away and saying make sure you beat Lock Lane because I want to play against you!

“Hunslet are a really good team – they’re one of the best amateur teams in the country. I go to watch them quite often. Hunslet Warriors and Hunslet Parkside both merged and it’s made them even stronger. I’ve got a load of people who I know in the team too, with the main one obviously being my cousin.

“We’re both going to run out wearing number 6 as well, so it’ll be a good day and a great occasion and I’m looking forward to it. They’ll be a lot of family members there.

“We’re a massive rugby league family and since being as old as we can walk, we’ve been kicking a rugby ball about. He’s been all around watching me and I’ve been all around watching him.”

As a tie that arguably encapsulates Challenge Cup magic and the brilliance of the competition, both cousins recognise the importance of the opportunity for community clubs to test themselves against top opposition:

“It’s massive,” Luke admitted. “They’ll be watching Super League teams every weekend and be thinking about this challenge and how their teams could go against a top side.

“Wakefield aren’t Super League anymore, but I think our squad is of a Super League standard. They [Hunslet] will be buzzing all week for this game and it’s an easy one to get up for, as we saw with Siddal in that first half.

“The game at Siddal was a really tough first half and they were really tough opponents – Siddal came to play. It was a really tough encounter and that's exactly what it should be in a Challenge Cup early round tie.

“It’s a good test for Hunslet and with them being the best amateur side in the game, to be able to come and test themselves against a good opposition is probably what they play the game for. Grassroots taking on bigger opposition - that's what it's all about.” 

Jordan added: “It’s great for the grassroots and it’ll be a fantastic day out for everyone. It keeps the community going with things like this.”

“Our aim will be to try and slow the game down and buy us a bit of time. Being on Wakefield’s pitch, they’ll want to try and run away with it.”

“You’ve got to enjoy the day more than anything. Wakefield are just like a Super League side with Super League quality players. It’ll be a great challenge for us and it’ll set us up nicely for our first league game and to see where we’re at as a team.”

When asked if they had a message to give one another ahead of Sunday’s match, they responded:

“I’d say to him enjoy the day but we won’t be taking no prisoners,” Luke laughed. “My uncle actually rang me and said go easy on him, but he’s bigger than me so I’ve got no chance!”

Jordan also joked: “I’ve already said to him earlier I’m going to blank him from now on and then we might have a beer after!”

Which cousin will triumph and which cousin are you backing in Round 4?

Tickets are still available for this Round 4 Challenge Cup tie. Fans can purchase tickets from Wakefield Trinity’s official club website by clicking here.

A full Betfred Challenge Cup Round 4 preview can be found here.