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8th April 2021, 18:48 | challengecup

Betfred Challenge Cup Round 3 Preview

Betfred Challenge Cup Round 3 Preview

The third round of the Betfred Challenge Cup gets underway on Friday night as Hull KR take on Castleford Tigers from 6pm.

Both beaten finalists at the hands of Leeds Rhinos in successive seasons (Tigers in 2014 and Rovers in 2015), Challenge Cup success has evaded both clubs since the 1980s and they will be keen to secure their place in the final eight with a win.

The all-Super League affair will be shown live on Our League on Friday night.

KR will have to adapt to the loss of vice captain Elliot Minchella to a season-ending knee injury and have brought in Luis Johnson, Ethan Ryan and Jimmy Keinhorst, who could all make their first competitive appearances of the season.

In the other camp, Castleford boss Daryl Powell has been confirmed as Warrington Wolves' new head coach from 2022, but will be looking for a first Cup title as he brings the curtain down on eight years in charge at the club.

The only change from his side's win over Warrington last time out sees Gareth O'Brien return to the 21-man squad after missing last week's clash through concussion.

The two sides have had contrasting starts to the league season with Castleford winning two games from two attempts, and Rovers yet to get off the mark.

They also faced off in pre-season as the Tigers triumphed 30-20 at Craven Park in Adam Milner's testimonial match.

Also on Friday night, York City Knights host Wigan Warriors at the LNER Community Stadium live and for free on The Sportsman from 7.45pm.

The Knights have big plans after their much-anticipated stadium move and their off-season recruitment, headlined by the likes of former Leeds forward Adam Cuthbertson and prolific winger Ben Jones-Bishop have only underlined their ambitions.

Their Betfred Championship season got off to a slow start with a home defeat by Toulouse, but the injury-hit Knights have shown sustained evidence of their quality as they dispatched of both Sheffield Eagles and London Broncos away from home on their way to round three.

Meanwhile, Wigan come into the tie having carved out back to back Super League wins over Leigh and Wakefield and will be looking to avoid being on the end of a classic cup upset.

Wigan have named a near full strength side for the clash as coach Adrian Lam makes no changes from last week's win over Wakefield, meanwhile York being in Myles Harrison and AJ Towse into their squad for the game.

It will be the first time Wigan have played against York since 1985.

Saturday's bumper schedule of Challenge Cup action sees four fixtures taking place, with St Helens taking on holders Leeds Rhinos in arguably the pick of the action, 2.30pm kick off - live on BBC One from 2pm.

Leeds edged out Salford 17-16 in the Wembley showpiece last year, while Saints succumbed to Warrington in the quarter finals.

The Rhinos carried an injury-hit squad into the start of the season and could be without up to nine first team stars on Saturday, including eight outside back options.

Jack Broadbent is set to continue at full back, Fiji's King Vuniyayawa could make his debut after arriving in the off season and 17 year old Morgan Gannon, son of the Australian former Super League prop Jim Gannon, could make his first team bow after spending pre-season amongst the first team squad.

In opposition, Saints can call upon an almost fully-fit squad as Mark Percival returns.

Recent England call-up Morgan Knowles is the only ongoing absentee for Kristian Woolf's side as Saints kick off their Cup campaign for the year and go in search of a first Challenge Cup triumph since 2008.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Featherstone Rovers host Hull FC on Our League, 7pm kick off, in a repeat of the 1983 Cup final, viewed by many as one of the competition's greatest upsets as Rovers won 14-12.

Hull have been Cup experts in recent years, with back to back final wins in 2016 and 2017 at Wembley.

Both sides can also boast a number of survivors from when the two clubs met in a tumultuous 2018 Cup tie which saw Hull claim a 38-20 win at Post Office Road.

Catalans Dragons will also clash with Wakefield trinity on Saturday, 5pm kick off.

Live on BBC Two from 4.30pm, the Dragons have started the season in good form with two league wins from two attempts, while Wakefield are yet to hit their stride with no wins so far.

Catalans were the first overseas winners of the competition back in 2018, while Wakefield are five-time Cup winners - but they havent enjoyed success in the competition since 1962.

The Dragons were 36-24 winners over Wakefield in the Cup last season, though their route to cup success was blocked by a 22-18 defeat at the hands of eventual finalists Salford at the quarter final stage. 

Saturday's opening fixture will see Widnes Vikings travel to face Salford Red Devils live on Our League from 12.30pm.

The Red Devils were surprise finalists under former head coach Ian Watson last season, while Widnes' latest taste of Wembley was their 1985 Cup final defeat at the hands of Sheffield Eagles back in 2019.

On Sunday, a pair of fixtures complete the round, with Swinton Lions eyeing a repeat of their shock 28-24 win over Super League outfit huddersfield in 2017 as they play host to Warrington Wolves.

That will kick off at 12.30pm exclusively live on Our League, and an all-Super League tie follows at 2.30pm as Leigh Centurions welcome Huddersfield Giants.