The third round of the Challenge Cup gets underway today and with it comes the possibility for one of the biggest ever upsets as amateur side Siddal take on Wakefield Trinity.
This is the first stage of the competition where League One and Championship clubs take part with those 22 sides (Toulouse don’t take part) joining the ten remaining amateur clubs who have progressed so far.
The draw for round three threw up some very interesting ties with Siddal hosting Trinity being one and Thatto Heath Crusaders hosting Featherstone Rovers being another mismatch on paper.
Both amateur sides have managed to work with the RFL and their opponents to be able to host the games at their own grounds which adds further romance to the stories.
Huddersfield Giants star Jake Connor is one of the coaches at Siddal and he’s spoken to BBC West Yorkshire about the historic game.
“I don’t get nervous for games but I’m nervous for this one, especially as soon as Daryl Powell said that they were coming full strength.
“Last year we played Sheffield in the Challenge Cup and we got a few injuries off the back of that and it kind of disrupted our season. On one edge they’ve got Jermaine (McGillvary), Griff (Josh Griffin) (Iain) Thornley) and my edge is not that big so it’s a bit worrying as a coach.”
Trinity have indeed gone full-strength with Powell naming a squad more akin to Super League than Championship, the likes of McGillvary, Gale, Lino, Griffin and Iain Thornley all named in the unchanged 21-man squad.
“I’m begging him not to play” – Connor calling on old teammates to help out
With Wakefield Trinity bringing such a high-powered side to Siddal it’s left their coach Jake Connor doing the rounds and messaging some of his former teammates, calling on them to pull out to aid his side’s chances.
He spoke on the magnitude of the occasion for his team: “It’s exciting though, I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen again for an amateur team. They’re in the Championship but let’s be honest, they’re a Super League team.
“So for them to play at our home ground at Siddal, the boys are buzzing for it.”
On former Giants’ teammate Jermaine McGillvary, Connor jokingly revealed: “Yeah, I’m begging him not to play and to pull out but he’s having none of it.”
To progress to this stage Siddal have beaten Clock Face Miners on the road but it’s a whole new type of challenge today at home, and Connor outlined the work put in to ensure the game could be hosted at Siddal.
He explained: “It’s probably never going to happen again against a team like this and I think Wakefield have been really good about it as well. They’ve just cracked on with it. As a professional team you can worry about ‘is the pitch going to be right, is this going to be right’ etc, but we’ve still got good facilities and the pitch is bob on.
“It’s going to be good for everyone. It’s going to be a good day out. I’m sure the night is going to be better.”
The biggest ever Challenge Cup upset?
Should Siddal manage to get over the line and progress to the fourth round of the Challenge Cup then it could well be the biggest upset in the competition’s history.
Of course, Sheffield Eagles’ victory at Wembley is iconic but for an amateur side to beat what Connor has labelled as effectively a Super League team would be on another level.
Bookmakers have been rather harsh on punters wanting to take a chance on the amateurs as they’ve only priced them at 100/1, with Wakefield made 68-point favourites and priced at 1/1000.
It would certainly be a massive upset in the history of the sport but Connor’s focus is more on how his team hold themselves against such tough opposition.
He noted: “I’m also realistic like I say, the boys have always wondered what it would be like to play against some of the players and they’ve got that opportunity and I think the best thing for them this week is for Wakefield to come off and say, ‘oh he’s a good player’ and that we were a good team who gave a good account of ourselves.
“I think we’ve got a team to do that, they work really hard, they’re pretty fit, obviously the skill level and the speed of the game is going to be a lot different to what they play in it but I’m excited to see how they go.”
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