Challenge Cup Preview – 3 Days To Go

The last time a team from Yorkshire won the Challenge Cup was in 2005, when Hull FC defeated Leeds Rhinos by a single point at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. This Saturday will see a team from Yorkshire crowned Cup winners at Wembley, as the Rhinos face local rivals Castleford Tigers in a mouth-watering final tie.

Leeds’ last final victory was back in 1999, when the late Graham Murray’s side hammered London Broncos by 52 points to 16. That remains the biggest winning margin in a Cup final, and the nine tries the Rhinos scored on that day remains the most any team has scored in a final.

The records continued to tumble in that game, Leroy Rivett’s four tries is the most any player has scored in a final, and Iestyn Harris’ eight goals remains unsurpassed in the showpiece event. Harris also scored a try in that game, meaning he notched up twenty points in total, again a record.

Since the turn of the millennium, however, Leeds have lost in the final six times – twice to Warrington Wolves and Bradford Bulls, and once to both Wigan Warriors and Hull FC. Castleford’s head-coach Daryl Powell was a part of the record-breaking Rhinos romp fifteen years ago, but tasted defeat against Bradford as Leeds boss in 2003.

Powell has led the Tigers to their first cup final since 1992, Cas lost to Wigan that day, it is the only time they have lost a Challenge Cup final.

The Tigers route to the final has seen them concede just seven tries in four games, while they also boast the competitions top try scorer – Justin Carney – who has seven tries to his name. Carney has featured in just two of his sides cup games this season, grabbing three tries against Batley and four against Sheffield.

Castleford won their first Challenge Cup in 1935, beating Huddersfield 11-8 in the final at Wembley, in front of 39,000 fans.  More than double that number of spectators were at the twin towers when Cas claimed their last cup victory in 1986.

That year, Mal Reilly’s side beat Wigan in the quarter-finals, and they saw off the Warriors at the same stage in this year’s competition.

The Tigers last victory over their Yorkshire foes came in February last year, Ian Millward was in charge of the 14-12 victory at Wheldon Road in the league.

The latest fixture between the two sides ended in a thrilling draw at Headingley last month, a game which saw Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield receive the first red card of his career.

If Saturday’s final ends all square, the RFL have announced there will be a replay on September 3rd at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane – it would be the first Cup final replay since 1982.



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