2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup
2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup

By Richard Cowley, Date: 8/5/13

The Catalan Dragons will continue to fly the flag for non English rugby league teams as the 5th round of the Challenge Cup kicks-off this weekend.

The Dragons will be favorites to progress through to the 6th round of the Challenge Cup as they look to take on Championship side York City Knights.

The Catalan Dragons created history in 2007 by making the Challenge Cup Final. The Dragons are aiming to be at Tetley’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 24 and hopefully create history by being the first non english side to win the tournament.

The Tetley’s Challenge Cup fifth round draw

Catalan Dragons v York City Knights
Hull FC v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Workington Town v Widnes Vikings
Hull KR v Wigan Warriors
London Broncos v Bradford Bulls
Warrington Wolves v Salford City Reds
Huddersfield Giants v Leeds Rhinos
Sheffield Eagles v Halifax

Other 5th Round news:

Ratchford ready for Salford clash

Stefan Ratchford will put friendships and old loyalties to one side this weekend when he looks to knock his old club Salford City Reds out of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.

Ratchford’s current club Warrington Wolves meet Salford in a fifth round tie at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday (3.00pm) knowing that victory will leave them just two wins from a fourth appearance at Wembley in five years and the utility back is keen to ensure nothing gets in the way of a return to the national stadium.

“It’s always an honour to be involved in the Challenge Cup and every game in the competition is special,” said Ratchford. “It’s a great competition with a fantastic history and the more games you can play in it as a player the better.

“To be playing against my former club makes it even more special. After Warrington, Salford are the first club whose score I look for each week. I spent a long time there as a young player and the club will always have a place in my heart.

“I’m still in touch with some of the lads who were there when I was playing and now that Brian Noble has taken over hopefully we will see the club take steps forward and turn the tide on their recent seasons.

“However all that will be put to one side this weekend – I’ll be going out there to put in a big performance and hopefully help the team come away with a good win.”

Ratchford has already experienced the ultimate high of winning the competition’s showpiece final at Wembley, having played a part in the 35-18 victory over Leeds Rhinos in 2012 and he says that experience is one that he would love to repeat this season.

“The experience of winning the Cup at Wembley is almost impossible to describe,” he said. “As we closed in on the final last season, going through the quarters and semis, the lads who’d been there before were talking about what it was like but nothing comes close to describing the feeling.

“Standing in the tunnel knowing that you’re about to walk out in front of 70,000 fans at Wembley is an amazing feeling and just to get that far is a dream come true.

“As a kid growing up you dream of making it to that stage and then to go on and win and lift the trophy is just unreal. It really is a special feeling and one that everyone at the club is hoping to experience again this season.

“There’s an aura that comes with being involved in the latter stages of the Cup and we’re fully focused on performing this weekend and ensuring we take that next step towards Wembley.”

Gale hoping to blow Broncos away in Challenge Cup

The Tetley’s Challenge Cup is special for every Rugby League player but for Bradford half-back Luke Gale, Friday night’s fifth round tie against London Broncos at The Twickenham Stoop will have extra significance.

The former Leeds Rhinos Academy player was on loan with Doncaster when he signed for Harlequins RL at the end of 2008 and it proved to be a career-defining move. In his three seasons with the London club he made 72 appearances and earned a place with England Knights.

“The Challenge Cup is special,” said Gale. “It’s a different game, you don’t play week in week out, so it’s a different kind of buzz and the boys always get up for it. Every team dreams of a good Challenge Cup run and it definitely has a different feel about it.

“I think when you start your career you dream of playing at Wembley. It’s a massive thing, something that everyone wants to achieve.”

So how will it feel to be back and The Stoop? “It will be good, I’ve got a few friends at the club and I enjoyed my time down there. I’m looking forward to it and I know the boys are as well.”

Bradford played the Broncos a month ago at High Wycombe when The Stoop was unavailable in what turned out to be a cracking contest. The Londoners led 20-12 at half-time thanks to a hat-trick from Kieran Dixon but Jarrod Sammut turned the game on its head in the second half with a four-try haul to give Bradford a 46-20 victory.

Bradford, however, will not be taking anything for granted on Friday.

“Obviously we’ll go in there in a positive frame of mind but you can’t underestimate them. London can turn teams over,” said Gale. “If you take them too lightly they’ll shock you

“I know they’ve been at the foot of the table but they’ve got class players like Luke Dorn and some good young kids in Kieran Dixon and Daniel Sarginson.

“With it being Friday night there should be a bit of atmosphere and hopefully they’ll get a good crowd in. It’s a game to look forward to definitely.”

Ellis excited by the lure of the Challenge Cup

Hull FC captain Gareth Ellis is primed and ready to hit the Wembley trail when he makes his long-overdue Tetley’s Challenge Cup ‘debut’ against his former club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Friday night (8.00).

Ellis tasted Super League action for the first time this year in Hull FC’s 48-12 victory over London last week and having come through the match in good health, is relishing the cut and thrust of a Challenge Cup fifth round tie.

The England international was sidelined by a foot injury sustained in the warm up on the opening day of the season, leading to a frustrating few months out for a player who joined Hull FC at the end of 2012 after a successful four-year stint in the NRL with Wests Tigers.

“It was great to be playing again and fantastic to get the reception I did from the passionate Hull FC fans,” said Ellis.

“I’ve been lucky with injury throughout my career and that made the last few months all the more frustrating. Thankfully that period is behind me now and I’m looking to kick on.

“The Challenge Cup is unique and it’s going to be a special match for me on Friday. When I was considering all my options in Sydney, the chance to play in a Challenge Cup final at Wembley was something that helped sway my decision to come back to England.

“I was lucky enough to play at Wembley with England in the Four Nations in 2011 and it’s an incredible venue. To lead out Hull FC in August would be an amazing experience but that’s not something that anyone here is talking about right now.

“There’s a lot of rugby to be played between now and then and we know we are going to have to be at the top of our game against a Wakefield team which is in good form at the moment.”

Wakefield will head for the KC Stadium buoyed by an impressive 30-12 defeat of Catalan Dragons on Sunday and Ellis is acutely aware how much an extended Cup run will mean to his old club.

“I started my career at Wakefield and know from experience that the Challenge Cup will be a massive target for everyone at the club,” said Ellis, who spent five years at Belle Vue before joining Leeds Rhinos in 2005.

“They’re a very well drilled team and we know they will come to the KC in determined mood with a strong following. It would be great to see as many Hull FC there as possible to join us on what we hope will be a very special journey.”

Widnes captain expecting tough Cup trial

Widnes captain Jon Clark is warning his team-mates that the Vikings cannot take anything for granted when they play Workington Town in the fifth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup at Derwent Park on Sunday (3.00pm).

The Super League club were taken to the wire by fourth round opponents Doncaster before eventually winning 42-28 and Clark says that Widnes cannot afford to get drawn into another battle against Championship opposition.

“I don’t think there’s any room for anyone in the squad to get complacent,” said Clark. “We had a scare last time out against Doncaster and we know Workington will be throwing everything they have at us so we cannot take them lightly.

“They’re a decent side and we’re going up to their home patch in front of their fans and we know it’s not going to be an easy day.

“We know if we let them into the game then their fans will get behind them and we could be in for a tough day. We need to go there and play with confidence and play with focus and if we do that then we should come away with a good win and get ourselves in the hat for the next round.”

With just two victories away from home so far in Super League, Widnes have struggled to find their form outside of the Stobart Stadium but Clark says that won’t come into the equation on Sunday as the Cup is an entirely different proposition.

“Our league form has been up and down all season but that doesn’t count in the Cup,” he said. “We know that we’re only three or four wins away from a chance to play at Wembley.

“Three good games and you could be in the Cup final and that’s the way we need to approach this game.

“I think we have a squad capable of putting together the performances on the day and who knows how far we could go? We’ve got a great blend of experience and some very level-headed young players in the squad who are full of enthusiasm for the game.

“We need to play our hearts out and treat this game like a cup final because from this stage onwards, the pressure just gets hotter and hotter.”

Tickets for the 2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 24 are now on sale. Visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or call 0844 856 1113 for full details.

For further information on this season’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup, please visit www.thechallengecup.com, www.facebook.com/TetleysChallengeCup or follow @TetleysChCup.