West Wales Raiders, who have caused a stir during the off-season with the big-name signings of Gavin Henson and Rangi Chase, have been handed a plum Betfred Challenge Cup fixture at home to Widnes Vikings in Thursday's first-round draw.
Widnes, who are seven-time Challenge Cup winners, will visit the League One team in the pick of the first-round ties, with Henson and Chase potentially making debuts against the Championship outfit.
Henson signed this off-season, two years after leaving rugby union side Dragons, while former Man of Steel winner Chase was snapped up after he left fellow League 1 side Doncaster.
The other two League One sides in the draw were handed testing away ties. Keighley Cougars face a trip to face Danny Ward’s London Broncos while Barrow Raiders will take on the Roughyeds at Oldham’s Vestacare Stadium. With just three League One teams in the draw this year due to Covid-19 disruptions and the suspension of the grassroots game, the rest of the draw is made up with all Championship ties.
Whitehaven and Dewsbury Rams meet, while there is also a tie steeped in history as the three-time champions Featherstone Rovers take on five-time winners Bradford Bulls. Elsewhere, Sheffield Eagles will play the York City Knights. If Henson’s Raiders make it past Widnes, they face the winner of that tie.
Given the pandemic these will be the first competitive rugby league matches some teams have played in a year, potentially increasing the possibility of some upsets along the way.
First Round Draw in full
Sheffield Eagles v York City Knights
Halifax Panthers v Batley Bulldogs
Swinton Lions v Newcastle Thunder
West Wales Raiders v Widnes Vikings
Oldham v Barrow Raiders
Whitehaven v Dewsbury Rams
London Broncos v Keighley Cougars
Featherstone Rovers v Bradford Bulls
Ties to be played over the weekend of 20/21 March.
Second Round Draw in full
Swinton Lions or Newcastle Thunder v Oldham or Barrow Raiders
Featherstone Rovers or Bradford Bulls v Halifax Panthers or Batley Bulldogs
London Broncos or Keighley Cougars v Sheffield Eagles or York City Knights
West Wales Raiders or Widnes Vikings v Whitehaven or Dewsbury Rams
Ties to be played over the weekend of 27/28 March.