The draw for the semi-final of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup took place at St Helens following their victory over Hull FC.

In a ground breaking move, the semi-finals will be played back-to-back at Bolton’s Macron Stadium on the 5th August, kicking off at 12:30 and 14:45, with both games being broadcast live on the BBC in a rugby league extravaganza.

Catalans Dragons, Leeds Rhinos, St Helens and Warrington Wolves were all in the hat with hopes of a Wembley trip on the 25th of August.

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It was the Cup holders against the Champions elect in the last quarter final on Sunday afternoon, as the Totally Wicked Stadium was the venue for St Helens against Hull FC. There are currently ten points separating the two sides in the the league table and with home advantage it was Saints who were the hot favourites. Saints were unchanged from the side which comfortably beat the Castleford Tigers last weekend while Hull had Bureta Faraimo, Carlos Tuimavave, Albert Kelly, Scott Taylor and Dean Hadley back in their starting thirteen but were still without Marc Sneyd. The question on everyones lips was whether Hull could halt the Saints juggernaut.
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Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors met on Saturday afternoon at the Halliwell-Jones to determine who would join the Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos in the semi-finals. It was Super Leagues third against second and both brought great current form into the sudden death fixture. Both sides could boast strong line-ups with all of their key players lining up, and strength in depth on the benches. When the two sides met a fortnight ago in Newcastle, the Warriors were big winners but Wigan were only slight favourites with the bookies, The closeness of the competition made it no surprise that the BBC picked the game for Saturday afternoon live coverage to the nation.
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After claiming the scalp of the Salford Red Devils in the last round, the Leigh Centurions had their sights set firmly on the Leeds Rhinos as the two sides met in the quarter finals at Post Office Road in Featherstone due to the Headingley being unavailable due to the ongoing England test match against Pakistan. The Rhinos had a number of stars returning to a side who well beaten in the south of France last weekend including old heads Carl Ablett and Anthony Mullally. Leigh also lost last weekend, by the narrowest of margins, in an ill tempered game with the Toronoto Wolfpack. The Rhinos were ironed on favourites, but the beauty of the cup is its unpredictability.
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The quarter finals of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup threw together Super League’s eighth and tenth placed sides as the Huddersfield Giants hosted the Catalans Dragons for a place in the double header semi-final to be played in Bolton on the 5th August. The Giants had skipper Leroy Cudjoe back in the starting line up after over eight months out, as new coach Steve Woodford got his first taste of the games flagship knock-out tournament. Catalans coach Steve McNamara is well versed in the language of the cup and was hoping that his side could translate their good run of form into cup progress to the detriment of the the Giants. It promised to be a close competition between two sides who appear to have turned the corner after poor starts to the season.
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Super League takes a back seat this weekend as the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Quarter Finals dominate four days of action. There is also, one Super League fixture, two games in the Championship and three in Championship One as some sides take the opportunity of cup elimination to catch up on games lost to the weather earlier in the season.

First up on Thursday evening is the meeting between the Huddersfield Giants and Catalans Dragons as both sides look to continue their good form with cup progress. Friday will have the nerves of Rhinos fans jangling as their battered and depleted side take on the competitions only remaining Championship side, the Leigh Centurions.

On Saturday afternoon it is the turn of the Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors to do battle while Sundays game is probably the most appealing of all as Cup holders Hull FC travel to Champions elect St Helens.

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The first game on Sunday of the Summer Bash from Blackpool was the game with the most potential for a humdinger as second played third when Toulouse Olympique XIII took on the London Broncos.

The sides are tied on competition points and separated by just a points difference of forty-four but it was the French side who won the encounter at the end of March by 36-16 when the sides met in London.

It was a game between two good teams, both intent on securing the victory.

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If there is a time you don’t want to travel to Perpignan to play the Dragons, it would be the round after you’ve been given a rugby league lesson by the Castleford Tigers and lost your skipper for the rest of the season. The Dragons were on a cloud after beating the Red Devils in Newcastle last weekend and had their eyes on tenth spot, with a possibility of ninth with a big enough win.

The Rhinos took a makeshift side on the longest trip in the domestic game. Jimmy Keinhorst, Brad Dwyer, Adam Cuthbertson and Brett Ferres were all named in the thirteen to replace Watkins, Parcell, Peteru, Ferres and Jones-Buchanan. It was also a very youthful Rhinos bench. The Catalans made just one change to their winning squad with Mikael Goudemand replacing Jason Baitieri on the bench.

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The Summer Bash weekend curtain raiser was an eighth against tenth encounter between the Barrow Raiders and the Sheffield Eagles as Bloomfield Road in Blackpool filled with the colours of the Betfred Championship for the opening day.

Both sides are amongst this seasons strugglers although the Raiders have taken some major scalps following their promotion alongside Toronto Wolfpack at the end of last season.

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The game of round sixteen saw fourth place Hull FC travel to the Halliwell-Jones to take on third placed Warrington Wolves who themselves were looking to get back to winning ways after being beaten in Newcastle at the Magic weekend.

Hull FC’s injury woes worsened last weekend when Josh Griffin picked up a long term injury to further complicate the log-jam in the physiotherapist room. The Wolves named Ben Pomeroy in their seventeen after re-signing him from Lezignan Sangliers earlier in the month.

A win by six points or more for Hull would lift them above the Wolves into third and consolidate their place in the top four.

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