Challenge Cup 2022: Sixth-round talking points as Super League clubs enter | Rugby League News


St Helens begin their Challenge Cup defence away to Whitehaven on Saturday

St Helens begin their Challenge Cup defence away to Whitehaven on Saturday

We take a look at what is being said ahead of the Betfred Challenge Cup sixth round this weekend, with 11 Super League clubs entering the competition at this year’s last-16 stage…

JJB’s Cup of hope

Jamie Jones-Buchanan is hoping the Challenge Cup proves happier for him in his coaching career than it often did in his playing career when he takes charge of Leeds Rhinos for the first time on Saturday.

Jones-Buchanan’s first match since being named interim head coach in the wake of Richard Agar’s departure sees the Rhinos host Castleford Tigers on Saturday at 4.30pm in the last 16, with both sides having begun the Betfred Super League campaign with just one win in six matches.

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Salford Red Devils and Leeds Rhinos

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Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Salford Red Devils and Leeds Rhinos

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Salford Red Devils and Leeds Rhinos

The former Leeds forward was part of the team which lost three consecutive Cup finals in the last decade before finally triumphing in 2014 – coincidentally, beating Castleford at Wembley – and wants the current squad to seize this opportunity to turn a stuttering season around.

“I lost a heck of a lot more than we won and used to drive back up the M1 in tears quite often,” Jones-Buchanan said. “I’ve got loads of daft stories about collecting ticket money from 2010 right through to 2012 when nobody wanted to pay it because we got beaten three times in a row.

“There are some unfortunate stats for us in the Challenge Cup, but what it does for the game again and again is provide opportunities, revivals and a distraction from what the league form looks like.

“It’s a wonderful historical heritage story which has been throughout the history of our game and if there is ever a time we want a slightly different focus, it would be in the Challenge Cup this week.”

Wigan Warriors vs Salford Red Devils (Fri, 7.35pm)

Sheffield Eagles vs Hull FC (Sat, 2pm)

Whitehaven vs St Helens (Sat, 2pm)

Hull Kingston Rovers vs Leigh Centurions (Sat, 3pm)

Catalans Dragons vs Featherstone Rovers (Sat, 3.30pm GMT)

Leeds Rhinos vs Castleford Tigers (Sat, 4.30pm)

Warrington Wolves vs Wakefield Trinity (Sun, 2pm)

Barrow Raiders vs Huddersfield Giants (Sun, 4.30pm)

Cumbrian clubs have chance to shine

Two of Cumbria’s professional clubs are among the five Betfred Championship sides to have made it through to the sixth-round stage this year and both have been rewarded with ties at home to Super League opposition.

On Sunday, Barrow Raiders – who knocked out county rivals Workington Town in the last round – welcome high-flying Huddersfield Giants to the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium, but the day before sees Whitehaven tackle Cup holders and reigning Super League kings St Helens.

Haven head coach Jonty Gorley, who has been involved in rugby league in West Cumbria at amateur and professional level for many years, is excited by the prospect of facing Saints and hopes it leaves a lasting legacy for an area which is a sometimes-overlooked hotbed of the sport.

“It’s something the area has missed for years,” Gorley said. “I was involved at Workington before Super League in the old Stones Bitter First Division, and you had teams like St Helens and Wigan coming here every other week.

Saints’ Amor relishing Haven homecoming in Challenge Cup

St Helens prop Kyle Amor on getting their defence of the Challenge Cup under way against hometown club Whitehaven.

“At the time, Whitehaven were doing really well, they were nearly in the top division and getting good crowds, and it’s just a good buzz in the area.

“It’s massive for the area and it’s something for the kids to aspire to, and hopefully seeing local lads playing against the best players in the world will boost them to maybe want to play for Whitehaven one day, so it’s a big boost and massive for the area.”

Saints go strong to kick off Cup defence

From the holders’ point of view, head coach Kristian Woolf intends to field the strongest side he possibly can when St Helens travel to Cumbria to get the defence of the trophy under way.

Will Hopoate, Alex Walmsley, Matty Lees and Sione Mata’utia are all missing due to injuries, but winger Regan Grace could make his return and Joe Batchelor is back after missing last Saturday’s 22-20 loss to Toulouse Olympique.

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Toulouse Olympique and St Helens

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Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Toulouse Olympique and St Helens

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Toulouse Olympique and St Helens

That defeat in the South of France has further strengthened Woolf’s belief this is not the time to rotate his squad and he is full of respect for the challenge part-timers Whitehaven will pose on their own patch.

“We need to put out the strongest team we can,” Woolf said. “It’s an important game, we want to be playing in the big Challenge Cup games in a few weeks’ time and we can’t take things to chance there.

“We need to throw out the strongest team we can and really respect our opposition and turn up and make sure we prepare really well, which we have so far…and put out our best performance.

“That’s what the game deserves, that’s what the area of Whitehaven deserves and that’s what we owe to ourselves as well. We didn’t play very well last week and are not happy with a number of things, and it’s really important we’re happy with what we do this weekend.”

Rovers’ test and Cup winners seeking upsets

Featherstone head to Perpignan to take on Catalans

Featherstone head to Perpignan to take on Catalans

Championship table-toppers Featherstone Rovers, who missed out on promotion to Super League last year after being beaten by Toulouse in the Million Pound Game, face a test of their ambitions when they travel to last year’s Grand Final runners-up Catalans Dragons.

The Dragons, Cup winners in 2018, have won five out of six in Super League so far this season, while unbeaten Featherstone are top of the Championship after five wins and one draw.

“It probably couldn’t have come any harder, given the travelling to us as well, but it’s something to be excited about,” Featherstone assistant coach Ian Hardman said.

“Catalans have been a top-end team for a few years now and to test our boys against the calibre of player they have will be good and something we look forward to.”

The other two Championship clubs involved both have Challenge Cup winners as players now in charge of them, with Adrian Lam, winner with Wigan Warriors in 2002, taking his Leigh Centurions side to Hull Kingston Rovers on Saturday.

Meanwhile, 1998 Lance Todd Trophy winner Mark Aston and Sheffield Eagles host Hull FC in a match which is having to be played at Featherstone’s Millennium Stadium.

Super League sides clash

The sixth round gets underway on Friday evening with an all-Super League tie as Wigan welcome Salford Red Devils to the DW Stadium.

The Warriors go into the match having got back to winning ways against Castleford last week, while the Red Devils are buoyed after ending a three-game losing streak with a victory at home to Leeds.

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers

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Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers

Both sides have begun new eras in 2022 with new head coaches in charge and Wigan boss Matt Peet was not surprised to see this week’s opponents victorious over the Rhinos, warning there will be more to come from Paul Rowley’s men.

“I always thought Salford would have a resurgence this year with Paul,” Peet said. “They’re a club who have been in the big games in recent years and the squad they’ve assembled contains a lot of hardened Super League and NRL players, with a quality coach.

“I’m not surprised to see they’ve turned some decent teams over. They move the ball well, run hard and tackle hard – so it’s ‘game on’ this Friday.”

The other all-Super League tie is a rematch of last Saturday’s league match, which will see Warrington Wolves aiming to get one back on Wakefield Trinity this Sunday at the Halliwell Jones Stadium after going down 38-22 to the same opponent previously.





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