Another round of Ladbrokes Challenge Cup action is upon us, and while my participation in the London Marathon means I’ll be unable to attend Hull Kingston Rovers’ clash with Leigh Centurions, you can rest assured I’ll be keeping an eye on proceedings (God bless social media!)
KR boys will bounce back
It was disappointing not to have got the result we wanted in Toulouse on Easter Monday, but I was impressed the effort from the lads – especially considering how much we chopped and changed things.
Playing two games in four days is never easy for any side, but I thought we did really well over the Easter period and we look in great shape for Saturday’s game.
We had a few bumps and bruises in our squad so we sent one or two of the younger players to France and although they fought bravely, we unfortunately lost the game.
We’re looking to send a message this weekend
We’ve been looking at this Leigh game for some time now. As a group, we feel we need a challenge, and we want to see where we’re at.
That’s what Saturday is about – laying a marker down. Our aim is to get back in the Super League and this game is a perfect opportunity for us to test ourselves.
I think the players we’ve got and the coaching staff will rise to the challenge. Leigh are good at home, Neil Jukes is an exceptional coach and they’ve got a great squad. We know it’s a difficult place to go but if we play our best, we can definitely do a job there.
This Ladbrokes Challenge Cup as a whole is a great chance for us to test our metal against the top teams in the country – that’s something we thought when the competition began this season, and it hasn’t changed.
Wigan favourites but our odds could soon tumble
At 66/1 we’re considered long shots to go all the way this year. Obviously that’s because we’re a Championship side and we’ve got Super League opposition this weekend, but they could soon drop if we get the job done at Leigh.
If we can come through this fixture and draw any side at home, we’re confident of giving it a good shot in the next round – but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves, we have to concentrate on this weekend’s game.
How quickly the next round comes around, can they get their players back?
Cas are in a rich vein of form right now though and I think their style of rugby suits this competition.
They play an attractive, open brand of rugby and generally the Challenge Cup suits that kind of game.
Outsiders tag suits us nicely
It’s good for the group that we’re heading into Saturday’s game as 9/4 outsiders, because it’s all about the challenge.
With all due respect to some of the clubs we’ve come across this season, the games haven’t been challenging. Plenty of teams play part-time, we’re full-time and we’ve got a better quality of players.
But this game is a step up for us, and I can only speak my own experiences here but when I was an underdog I was excited about that challenge. I’d always like to go out and put it on somebody to stand out and impress.
I think our boys will do the same. Leigh are rightly favourites. Granted, they’re not playing all that well at the moment but they’ve been in some good form at different stages this year.
But believe me, we’re happy about going into this game as underdogs, and we’re going to rise to that challenge.
Fans deserve to be celebrating this year
In a nutshell, the fans have been exceptional for us over the last few years. The loyalty and support they’ve shown for this club over this difficult period has been unbelievable.
We’re averaging over 8,000 supporters a week here and I’m sure they’ll pack out the away stand at Leigh.
We know we’re capable of beating Saturday’s opponents, but we need that support from the Red and White Army!
Time to keep up my 100% tipping record!
OK, I’ve only done one of these, but I did say I fancied Toronto Wolfpack to come through their game against London Broncos, and my attention this time is again on the Canadian outfit with the handicap (+24).
The reason for that is because Salford Red Devils have had a really difficult Easter period in terms of logistics. They played a difficult game on Good Friday against Leigh which went right down to the wire and then had to travel to Catalans Dragons on Monday, so they’ll be very tired heading into this one.
Toronto, however, have only played once over Easter, so they’ll be going into this game fresh.
Also, the majority of Toronto’s players are just far too good for the division they’re in, so they’re going to see this as a challenge to test themselves against solid Super League opposition.
If they really want to send shockwaves throughout Rugby League in the northern hemisphere, then they need to try and do something against Salford.
I think they’ll probably fall short, but with a +24 handicap at 10/11, they could be a great bet.
As for the Championship, Toulouse defeat is nothing to worry about
Of course we were disappointed to lose our unbeaten record last time out, but I’ve got to say that game was just a blip.
Toulouse are strong opposition and we were away from home in our second game in four days with a young squad – there’s plenty of reasons why we lost.
Our only problem in our attempt to win the title will be complacency, but Tim Sheens has been great with the lads up to this point to prevent that from happening.
The players themselves have been exceptional too, and have conducted themselves in a professional manner. They’re fully focused on being the best that they can be, and they’re not worried about what the opposition can do to them, and that’s exactly the kind of mindset needed to win this division.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing