The Ladbrokes Challenge Cup roars back into life this weekend, as Super League’s heavy hitters join the competition.
But as well as the arrival of the likes of current table-toppers Castleford Tigers, there are underdogs looking to cause a shock, an enticing rematch between last year’s Million Pound Game opponents, and much more.
Here are the ties – and storylines – we can’t wait to watch unfold in the coming days.
Hull or Salford? That’s the £1m question
Eight points behind with under two minutes left in the Million Pound Game last season, Salford Red Devils looked to be heading down to the Championship, with Hull KR seemingly certain of Super League status for another season.
But an incredible last-gasp turnaround secured victory for the Greater Manchester side, with the Robins left heartbroken.
So it’s fair to say that KR will be desperate for a measure of revenge as they head to AJ Bell Stadium to face the Reds on Friday night.
Shaun Lunt’s men have been fantastic in this campaign up to now, and currently sit comfortably top of the second tier. The question is – can they stun a Salford side enjoying their own impressive run of form. We’ll find out this weekend…
Underdogs Barrow looking to rumble Rhinos
The only League 1 side remaining in the competition, Barrow Raiders could hardly have a tougher assignment in the Sixth Round. The Cumbrians make the trip to Headingley to face a Leeds Rhinos side who’ve reached the final in five of the last seven seasons.
So – could they pull off a shock for the ages?
Well, Barrow are in fine form, having won all seven of their league outings this term, as well as chalking up 50 points away at York City Knights in their last Challenge Cup tie.
That said, it’s hugely unlikely they’ll win, but the Raiders could well ruffle a few Leeds feathers by giving their illustrious hosts a run for their money.
Can in-form Cas end their St Helens hoodoo?
Castleford Tigers may be sitting pretty at the top of Super League right now, but they’ll have to overcome their bogey team – St Helens – to progress to the last eight of the competition.
The Merseyside outfit have won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the pair, including a 40-16 thumping during October’s meeting. And Cas’ great form this season hasn’t made much difference in the fixture so far, with Saints ending their eight-game winning run with victory over Daryl Powell’s men last month.
So, can the West Yorkshire outfit finally turn the tables against their Super League rivals, or will it be another triumph at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle for St Helens?
Can Hull FC retain the cup for first time?
A number of teams have won back-to-back Challenge Cup titles in the past decade. Leeds lifted the trophy in 2014 and 2015, while Warrington Wolves tasted glory in 2009 and 2010, and St Helens managed a three-year grip on the trophy from 2006-2008.
So, can Hull do the same? Their Wembley victory over the Wolves last year was their fourth title in this prestigious competition – but they’ve fallen short of retaining the trophy on the previous three occasions.
This time around, the Airlie Birds kick off their cup campaign against Catalans Dragons at KCOM Stadium, the side they knocked out in the Quarter-Finals last year.
Will it be revenge for the Perpignan outfit, or the first step towards Lee Radford’s side retaining the title?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing