The weekend’s action from the last 16 of the Challenge Cup saw some brave underdog performances which threatened to produce some more shock results in this year’s competition before the favourites eventually prevailed to ensure that the big names will be in the hat for Tuesday’s Quarter-final draw.

Friday night saw Featherstone Rovers’ cup fairytale come to an end against holders Wigan, as they eventually went down 32-16 at Post Office Road, but not after another eye raising performance which saw the Championship club cause troubles for Super League opposition. After their defeat of top-flite local rivals Castleford in the previous round, many felt that the Rovers had already had their ‘Cup Final’ and that a tie against the holders would be a step too far and see a comprehensive victory for the visitors. After the Warriors went 6-0 up early on through Sean O’Loughlin the signs looked ominous but the home side’s gallantry was rewarded as they posted the next two tries to take the lead at 10-6. After Darrell Goulding’s equaliser for Wigan, a penalty goal put Fev 12-10 ahead until the last minute of the first half as Gareth Hock’s charging run put the Warriors back in front.

As Wigan extended their lead to 22-12 after the break it seemed that they would go on to run away with it, but Featherstone then hit back to put them back within 6.  A 65th minute try from winger Josh Charnley eventually sealed the result for the visitors before Hock’s second two minutes from time extended the scoreline to 32-16 for the Warriors which signalled the end of Featherstone’s cup heroics. However, Fev’s performances will be sure to live long in the memory as the romance of the Challenge cup was revived.

  • Warrington Wolves secured their place in the last 8 on Saturday afternoon after a 32-16 beating of Bradford Bulls. After the Bulls took an early 6-0 lead the Wolves were able to take a foothold in the game to hit back through Joel Monaghan. Still trailing 6-4 towards halftime after some great scrambling defence from the visitors, Warrington’s territorial dominance was eventually rewarded with two tries just before halftime to take a 16-6 lead at the break. Brett Hodgson ghosted through the tired defence to put the Wolves in front and then on the halftime bell Chris Riley pounced on a Bradford mistake as they forced the issue, to extend the Wolves’ advantage. Monaghan finished off two more tries in the second half to complete his hat-trick and Ryan Atkins added another as they dispatched the Bulls’ challenge. Bradford were never able to pull themselves back within range, being unable to take advantage as Warrington had a man in the sin-bin, with their second half tries through Keith Lulia and Olivier Elima not able to spark a considerable comeback.

Two more shock results looked on the cards on Sunday as Super League champions Leeds Rhinos were pushed all the way by Salford City Reds in tough conditions at the Salford City stadium. 6-all at the break, Jodie Broughton raced in to give the Reds the lead in the second half but important tries from Ben Jones-Bishop and Shaun Lunt prevented the major upset as the Rhinos edged it 16-10.

Another possible upset was eventually prevented at Mount Pleasant as the Championship part-timers Batley made it a nervy afternoon for Super League strugglers London Broncos. Coached by Challenge Cup maestro, Jon Kear who has won the competition twice, including Sheffield’s famous 1998 triumph over Wigan, Batley fancied their chances of an upset against the Broncos. The Londoners took a 16-0 lead in the first half but had to withstand a comeback surge before they finally prevailed 22-16 to keep their Wembley dreams alive.

  • The only all-Championship clash saw Leigh Centurions dramatically book their place in the quarter-finals with a 19-18 victory as they beat Halifax in golden point extra time.

With St Helens, Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield all booking their place in the last-8 there may well be some blockbuster ties to come out of the bag for the quarter-final ties due to be played in a fortnight’s time as the road to Wembley begins to hot up.

The quarter-final draw is due  to be made on Tuesday morning at 8:20 am and can be heard on BBC Radio Five Live.


Simon Mulligan

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