Eight Teams Have Wembley In Their Sights This Weekend

Eight Teams Have Wembley In Their Sights This Weekend
13:32, 26 Jul 2019

Eight teams are a win away from Wembley as rugby league prepares for one of its biggest weekends of the season.

In the Coral Challenge Cup, St Helens face Halifax and Warrington take on Leeds at the University of Bolton Stadium. Both games are being played at the home of Bolton Wanderers and a near full-house is anticipated. The day will kick off with the Women’s Challenge Cup Final between Castleford and Leeds.

Then on Sunday, the inaugural AB Sundecks 1895 Cup - described by some as rugby league’s Checkatrade Trophy - sees Widnes go to Leigh and Sheffield take on Batley.

The tripleheader at Bolton begins at 11.15am when Castleford take on Leeds for the Women’s Challenge Cup. Castleford have been the team to beat so far this season - in fact that's something nobody has managed to do yet - but Leeds cannot be discounted. The game will be available via the red button on BBC.   

At 2pm, Hull FC meet Warrington in the first Challenge semi-final in a game which looks too close to call. 

Despite a storming start to the season, Warrington’s recent form has been a worry. They have been beaten at home twice by Salford and last week were humbled at Castleford.

Hull FC have been hard to gauge in 2019. On some days they look like they can beat anyone but on others they are all over the shop. Coach Lee Radford has good form in this competition, winning back-to-back trophies in 2016 and 2017. Hull FC have seen off Cup holders Catalans Dragons as well as Castleford to get to this stage, proving their ability to get up for one-off games.

Wembley has been a regular destination for the Wolves in recent years - they’ve featured in five of the last ten Challenge Cup finals but haven’t won there since 2012. 

At 4.30pm, Super League leaders and by far some distance the best team in the competition this season, St Helens take on Championship side Halifax.

On paper, this shouldn’t be a problem for Saints who will remember all too clearly their defeat at the same venue against eventual winners Catalans Dragons a year ago. 

This is the first time in 13 years that a team from the Championship has reached the last four of the competition and Halifax’s task could not be more daunting. Saints are desperate to play at Wembley again after an absence of 11 years and it’s hard to see anything other than a win for Justin Holbrook’s men. 

The real success for Halifax is making it to this stage in the first place, thanks to wins over Super League side London as well as Championship rivals Dewsbury and Bradford. Their own Championship form has suffered since reaching the semi-finals which is hardly surprising with such a huge game on the horizon.  

On Sunday, another two semi-finals with Wembley the prize - the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup. This is a new competition for Championship and League One team and the semifinals will be played at the grounds of the home team in each case.

At 2pm, Sheffield meet Batley while at 4pm, Leigh meet Widnes. Both games should be competitive and home advantage could prove crucial. Sheffield are rarely beaten at Olympic Legacy Park, a sparse venue with a 4G pitch, though Batley have the capacity to surprise.

Both Leigh and Widnes have tasted Super League in the past few years and both coaches - Kieron Purtill (Widnes) and John Duffy (Leigh) have played for their opponents. It should be a tense affair between the relatively local rivals.