Five North West sides will be involved in the Challenge Cup over the course of this weekend having made it into the competition’s last 16, with only Leigh Centurions now left flying the flag for the Championship and the other four all Super League outfits, writes Ben Olawumi.
Two of those four top division teams meet at the DW stadium on Friday night – March 25 – as Wigan Warriors welcome Salford Red Devils.
Matt Peet’s Warriors are the most decorated club in the competition’s history, 19-time winners, and the head coach acknowledges the pressure is on his side to perform in knockout rugby league.
“It’s enormous for us,” he said.
“There’s an expectation that we perform well in all competitions, so as soon as we perform in a sudden death game, like any club, it gets us excited.
“We know it [the Challenge Cup] means a lot to the town and to the fans of the club.
“Taking them on any sort of journey at the moment is what motivates us and it’s important that our focus is massively on what will be a tough challenge against Salford.”
Meanwhile, after suffering a shock Super League defeat away at bottom club Toulouse last time out, current holders of the Challenge Cup St Helens meet Championship side Whitehaven on Saturday, March 26.
Saints boss Kristian Woolf believes that the key to success against the Cumbrian part-timers will be his players going into the contest with the right attitude.
“We can’t take things for chance here,” he explained.
“We’ll be putting out the strongest team that we possibly can, we need to really respect our opposition and turn up on the day.
“We need to prepare well, which we have done, and go there putting in our best performance.
“That’s what the game deserves, the area of Whitehaven deserves and it’s what we owe to ourselves as well.”
Elsewhere across the competition, Saturday afternoon also sees Leigh visit Hull Kingston Rovers, an almost annual trip in the Challenge Cup with the two sides now meeting in four of the last six campaigns.
By margins of 13, four and three, Super League club Rovers have come out on top in all three of the previous encounters, so Adrian Lam’s Centurions will undoubtedly head to Sewell Group Craven Park in search of a cup upset to stem the tide.
And rounding things off for the North West on Sunday – March 27 – are Warrington Wolves, who play host again to fellow Super League outfit Wakefield Trinity.
Only last weekend, Wire lost out 22-38 at home to Trinity in a shock league defeat with a sub-par performance throughout.
Selected Challenge Cup round six fixtures can be found below:
Friday: Wigan Warriors vs Salford Red Devils (19:35); Saturday: Whitehaven vs St Helens (14:00), Hull Kingston Rovers vs Leigh Centurions (15:00); Sunday: Warrington Wolves vs Wakefield Trinity (14:00)