It’s that time of year again. It feels like being a kid on Christmas Eve as the Challenge Cup Final moves into focus. It’ll be a brilliant occasion as always and is set to be adorned by thousands of fans as rugby league welcomes its first show-piece event with supporters since 2019.
But the Challenge Cup isn’t the only focus this week. Super League hits our screens once again as clubs play their games in hand whilst Australia once more provides us with high-profile action including Game III of State of Origin.
So, without any further ado, here’s every game you can watch on TV this week.
10:00 Sky Sports Arena – New South Wales v Queensland
Having already wrapped up the series in impressive fashion, the Blues are looking to secure a whitewash win over their rivals whilst the Maroons will be hoping to avoid the embarrassment of a 3-0 series defeat. New South Wales are fielding a new look team thanks to one or two injuries so it should be interesting to see the likes of Mitchell Moses fair against Queensland.
10:50 Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Arena – Manly Sea Eagles v St George Illawarra
Sixth play seventh in the NRL on Friday as both sides look to cement their now precarious play-off hopes. Following Origin, Manly will be hoping to give Tom Trbojevic a steady run of games and with his quality he could easily lead the Sea Eagles to the top four. As for the Dragons, off-field problems have caused the doubters to raise their voices. Can they cling onto their top eight spot?
18:10 Sky Sports Arena – Catalans Dragons v Leeds Rhinos
For the second week in a row the table-topping Dragons take on the Leeds Rhinos and if it’s as good as last Friday’s encounter we’re in for a treat. Catalans have brought a unique blend of physicality, smarts and speed to the table this year and the execution of that style leaves them top of the league. Meanwhile, the Rhinos look much better than they did at the start of the season and shouldn’t be counted out of the play-off race at this moment in time.
8:30 Sky Sports Arena, Sky Sports Mix – North Queensland Cowboys v Sydney Roosters
The 12th place Cowboys take on the fifth place Roosters on Saturday with both sides desperate for a win. North Queensland need two points if they’re going to keep their play-off hopes alive whilst the Roosters will be looking at the top four enviously and a win will help their chances of breaking into those coveted top four spots.
10:30 Sky Sports Mix – Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights
Speaking of the top four, at the very top of it in first place sit current Premiers Melbourne Storm. The reigning Champions have been quietly brilliant in 2021 and could very well claim back-to-back titles. However, looking to slow down the Storm’s momentum this week are the Newcastle Knights. They presently sit ninth on the ladder but a win could fire them into the top eight.
14:00 BBC One – St Helens v Castleford Tigers
Then in the main event, St Helens take on Castleford Tigers at Wembley for one of the most prestigious and oldest prizes in British sport: the Challenge Cup. After last year’s fanless final, it’ll be a joy to watch the two sides battle it out in front of thousands of spectators and it could be a special game. The Saints are the reigning Super League Champions and are looking to end 13 years of pain in the Challenge Cup whilst the Tigers are hoping to send out going coach Daryl Powell out on a high and will be quietly confident following their performance in the semi-final against Warrington. That came off the back of a drubbing against Leeds in which they rested plenty of stars. This is a similar situation with the Tigers rolling into the capital on the back of a 70-18 loss without their key men. Can they cause the upset and take home the crown?
Also don’t forget just before the Challenge Cup Final, you can catch the 1895 Cup Final between Featherstone and York on the red button or on BBC i-player. It should be a fantastic game between two top Championship sides. Will Featherstone’s form see them through or will York’s Wembley experience guide them to victory?