Five major talking points from this weekend’s Challenge Cup action

This week saw eight sides battle it out in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, with each team hoping to eventually make it the Tottenham Hotspur stadium and the Challenge Cup Final.

There was a repeat of the 2021 Grand Final on Saturday as well as a close fought battle between Hull FC and Huddersfield.

All the favourites managed to come out on top to set up two very exciting looking semi-finals to be played at Elland Road come May 7th. But after all that action, what were the major talking points from this weekend.

An unexpected finalist
With Huddersfield Giants and Hull KR set to face off in the semi-finals, it means there’ll be a surprise appearance from one of the Yorkshire clubs at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. In 2021, Hull KR and Huddersfield finished 6th and 9th respectively, and so for one of these clubs to appear in the Challenge Cup Final would have sounded unlikely going into this season. However, they have both earned the right to get a shot at playing in the final, with each side winning four of their last five games. Huddersfield will no doubt go into the game as favourites, but Tony Smith’s men will have full belief that they have enough to make the final for the first time since 2015.

Castleford look lost
After a dreadful start to the season, every step taken in the right direction seems to be followed by a setback for Lee Radford’s side. Victories over Leeds and Toulouse will have had many feeling the club was getting back on track, but a comfortable defeat at the hands of Hull KR serves as a reminder of just how far off Castleford are at the moment. With just the league to focus on, points need to start being picked up quickly to avoid any play-off hopes slipping away. The quality throughout the squad is there, and the huge change in personnel both on and off the field will mean that time is needed for the side to start to gel and play to their potential.

Another Saints Wigan derby in 2022
In terms of history and club success, Wigan vs Saints is certainly the biggest derby in English rugby league, and so for it to be played in a knockout format will only up the stakes further. For fans of both clubs, this was likely the draw they wanted to avoid given the quality of the two teams, but for neutrals this is the fixture to keep an eye on. It is a shame that it means the two teams cannot meet in the final, but to see arguably the two best teams in the league go head-to-head will be a real spectacle as each will feel they can go on to win the silverware should they progress.

Huddersfield are real contenders
Huddersfield avenged their loss from earlier in the season as they swept Hull FC aside to progress to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup. The victory made it seven wins from nine in all competitions for the Giants which will give the side plenty of confidence going into the next round. This is the best Huddersfield have looked for years and there’s nothing to suggest they can’t go on to win the Challenge Cup for the first time in almost 70 years given their form.

Wigan show they can turn on the style
Wakefield started their quarter-final against Wigan well as they piled the pressure on Wigan, but in typical fashion, the Warriors were able to hold out despite spending repeat sets defending their own line. Eventually when they got more of the ball, they started to punish Wakefield for not taking their opportunities. Wigan’s outside backs carved open Wakefield’s defence as they put the game out of sight with Jai Field getting another hat-trick. With so many great attacking options in their backs, if Matt Peet can solve the puzzle of Field, Hardaker and French then they will be a real threat going forward.

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