Date: Saturday 9th August.
Venue: Langtree Park, St Helens.
Kick Off: 2:30pm.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, AIton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Bailey, Kirke, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Walters (two to be omitted).
Warrington Wolves: Asotasi, Atkins, Bridge, England, Evans, Grix, Harrison, Higham, Hill, J Monaghan, M Monaghan, Myler, O’Brien, Ormsby, Ratchford, Russell, Waterhouse, Westwood, Wood (two to be omitted).
Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos meet once again in the Challenge Cup this weekend, but this time the two sides will be battling to book their place at the Wembley showpiece, rather than the final itself.
The pair took to the field in both the 2010 and 2012 finals in the national stadium, with Warrington running out as convincing winners on both occasions, winning 30-6 in 2010 and 35-18 two years ago.
Leeds last won the cup in 1999 and, despite winning six Grand Finals since, they have lost six Challenge Cup finals in the same period and Cup success still evades long-serving stalwarts such as Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow. If they are to break their duck this year, they will have to be at their best to overcome their confident opponents on Saturday.
Leeds were knocked out of the competition by Huddersfield Giants in the fifth round last year, while Warrington fell to a shock 16-12 semi-final defeat at the hands of defeated finalists, Hull FC.
Super League matches between the duo have been split this campaign, with Leeds running out 18-12 winners in a dramatic tie at Headingley, meanwhile with the Wolves overcame the West Yorkshire outfit in a clinical 24-6 win in May.
Eight-time Challenge Cup champions Warrington had their momentum halted with consecutive surprise defeats to Widnes and Wakefield. But they will be buoyed by their steely 26-24 away win over Catalan Dragons.
By contrast, Brian McDermott’s Rhinos appeared to be gaining some momentum after a solid 24-all draw with Castleford two weeks ago, followed by a hard fought away win over Salford. But, this positive run came to a shuddering halt after a weakened Rhinos side suffered a shock reverse last week, falling to a 20-14 defeat against the Championship-bound Bradford Bulls.
But, as has been shown in the past, anything can happen in the cup and we should be in for a tight and entertaining tie between two sides who will be desperate to seal their place in the final, where either side looks set to be installed as favourites to go all the way.
Kevin Sinfield returns to action for Leeds after serving his two match ban, while Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward and Ryan Bailey all return to the Rhinos squad.
While in the Warrington camp, Tony Smith has made three changes to the last weekend’s 19, with Ryan Atkins, Micky Higham and Matty Russell all returning.
Both sides have suffered some inconsistency of late, but Warrington are specialists in this competition and, though Leeds will put up a brave fight, Warrington will just have the edge in attack. Tip: Warrington by 4.
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