Sport thrives on its rivalries. El Clasico, the Ashes, India v Pakistan, the State of Origin, the Belgrade derby, Boca versus River, the Yankees and the Red Sox. There is nothing quite like beating your most loathed adversary, and little hurts more than a loss you’ll never hear the end of.
Besides the aforementioned State of Origin clash between New South Wales and Queensland, rugby league has plenty of such occasions in its calendar. There are the traditional Good Friday contests on either side of the world which pair South Sydney Rabbitohs with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and pit Hull FC against Hull Kingston Rovers in Betfred Super League’s one-city derby. And then, of course, there is St Helens versus Wigan Warriors.
But the Warriors’ twice-annual clashes with their deadly rivals are not the only massive games that the rugby league community of Wigan look forward to, with the town’s wonderful track record in the amateur game throwing up some huge fixtures.
And The Sportsman is proud to bring one such local clash on Saturday as Wigan St Patricks host Ince Rose Bridge at Clarington Park in a Wigan derby which provides the stand-out fixture of the Betfred Challenge Cup first round.
- Wigan St Pats v Ince Rose Bridge to be screened LIVE by The Sportsman
- RE-WATCH: Rochdale Mayfield v Wigan St Pats
- 2023 Betfred Challenge Cup outrights*
It is the start of a road to Wembley which will see the final of the premium rugby league knockout competition return to the national stadium in 2023 after Wigan Warriors’ dramatic late victory over Huddersfield Giants in the ’22 showpiece at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Saturday’s fixture will see St Pats back in front of The Sportsman’s audience 12 months on from their first-round fixture away to Rochdale Mayfield which ended in a 36-22 defeat. That was a first hit-out for St Pats under the tutelage of Challenge Cup legend Andy Gregory, a winner of the competition five times as a player with the all-conquering Wigan side of the late 80s and early 90s.
In their last involvement in the Challenge Cup, Ince knocked East Hull and Milford out of the 2020 event before being edged out 34-22 by the British Army in the third round. And they will need to get past one of their closest rivals if they are to meet Workington Town in round two of this year’s competition.
The two clubs are such close rivals that St Pats’ ground is on the cut-through to Ince Rose Bridge in heavy traffic, meaning there will be lots of local interest as well as plenty of appeal for the national and international audience as the Challenge Cup season gets properly underway.
After their success last year, Wigan Warriors are second favourites with Betfred to win the 2023 iteration at 9/2 behind only Super League champions St Helens, who are 7/2.
Saturday's 3pm kick-off will be shown live and exclusively on The Sportsman Rugby League on YouTube.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change