When we look back fondly on our favourite Challenge Cup memories we swoon to the classic finals, the seismic semi-final battles or even the early rounds where upsets take place or two heavyweights are pitted against each other right at the start of the tournament.
But for some reason the quarter-finals are often overlooked. So today we’re giving them some much needed attention.
With one of this year’s quarter-finals already finished with and three more on the way, here’s the five best Challenge Cup quarter-finals in the Super League era.
5. Hull FC 23-26 Catalans Dragons 2007
In 2007, Catalans Dragons gave themselves a chance of creating history when a Stacey Jones inspired win over Hull FC sent them into the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup for the first time and just a year after their Super League debut. A strong start gave Catalans a 12-2 lead but Hull FC battled back with a Richard Horne drop goal edging them ahead. Surprisingly, Catalans forward Jerome Guisset followed suit to level things up. A Bosc penalty took their lead out further on the back of a Wayne Godwin sin bin and a try from Clint Greenshields off a lovely chip from Jones and a drop goal from Bosc sealed the win for the French side.
4. Hull KR 24-25 Warrington Wolves 2009
A Lee Briers drop goal denied Hull KR the chance of a first Wembley appearance in the Super League era in 2009. With Super League Champions Leeds already out of the competition, the in form Robins were being tipped by some to win the Challenge Cup especially as they welcomed a struggling Warrington side to Craven Park. The lead changed hands three times in the second half as both sides looked to book a place in the semi-finals. Michael Dobson’s penalty sent the game to golden point late on but he needn’t have bothered as Briers nailed a drop goal at the fourth attempt to win the game.
3. Warrington Wolves 20-18 St Helens 2020
A superb first half from Warrington allowed them to shock Super League Champions and Challenge Cup favourites St Helens forcing the Saints’ wait for a Wembley win to enter a 13th year. First half scores from Anthony Gelling, Josh Charnley and Matty Ashton gave the Wolves a 16-8 lead. Regan Grace then cut the gap to two just shy of the hour mark before Charnley’s second gave Warrington a six-point lead. Kevin Naiqama scored nine minutes from time but the usually reliable Lachlan Coote failed to level the game with the conversion.
2. Warrington Wolves 26-27 Wigan Warriors 2017
Two of Super League’s biggest teams did battle in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup in 2017. The struggling Wolves knew at this stage that the cup represented their only route to silverware as they languished outside the top eight. They produced a good performance in a superb contest against Super League Champions Wigan. Sam Tomkins looked to have put the game beyond doubt at 27-20 with seven minutes left but a Kurt Gidley try gave the Wire a chance of victory. Adding to the drama, Wigan sent the restart out on the full giving Stefan Ratchford the chance to win it with a penalty but his effort sunk wide. Worsening Warrington’s pain, Dec Patton’s late drop goal attempt to level the match also went wide.
1. Leeds Rhinos 12-10 Wigan Warriors 2010
Leeds’ defeat to Castleford a fortnight ago meant that the Rhinos were denied a place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1992. So, they’ve played in plenty of quarter-final clashes since the start of Super League and this has to be the best. It was an unusual contest between the reigning Super League Champions and the favourites for the league and cup in the rain at Headingley. Unusual because there was only one try in the game. Kevin Sinfield and Pat Richards exchanged penalties throughout the contest. Defensively both were resolute with some crunching tackles and cover defence catching the eye. There were controversial moments too with Joel Tomkins copping a boot from Keith Senior and a yellow card was shown in the second half to the Warriors. In the end, the game was decided by a superb Lee Smith try from a scrum in the dying moments of the quarter-final. A memorable ending to a memorable cup tie.