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LADBROKES CHALLENGE CUP | An early take on the Semi-Finals

Four teams, namely Warrington Wolves, Leeds Rhinos, St Helens, and the Catalans Dragons booked their places for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-finals. The semi-finals are going to be played on the weekend of August 5 at the Macron Stadium in Bolton. The four teams will be vying for a Wembley final place.

A repeat of past finals

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This year’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final ties will see Warrington Wolves squaring off against Leeds while St Helens take on the Catalans. The two ties are a repeat of the 2012 Challenge Cup final in which Warrington Wolves won against Leeds and the 2007 Challenge Cup final in which St Helens defeated the Catalans in a thrilling finale.

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To progress to the semi-final, Warrington Wolves outclassed Wigan 23 nil while Leeds edged past Leigh to set up a semi-final tie against Warrington Wolves. The other semi-finalists St Helens and the Catalans defeated Hull and Huddersfield respectively in their quarter-final ties.

Head to Head Records

Going into the semi-final, Warrington Wolves have a better head to head record against Leeds. The last match between these two teams was played almost a month ago on 4 May in which Warrington Wolves beat Leeds 33-22. W

arrington Wolves could have won that match comfortably if not for their poor conversion on the day. The win over Leeds was Warrington Wolves’ 9 win in a row and it firmly placed the team on third position on the log standings.

Comparing the two teams’ results and performances in their last 6 matches, Warrington Wolves have posted better results that Leeds as the team won 5 of its last 6 matches. Wolves won against Hull, Leeds, Huddersfield, Toronto and Wigan on one occasion with the other match against Wigan ending in Wigan’s favour.

On the other hand, Leeds won three and lost three of its last six matches. Leeds won against Leigh, Widnes, and Hull and lost to the Catalans, Castleford and Warrington Wolves. On this evidence, punters looking to place bets on this match on BonsuReferrerCode should have more confidence tipping Warrington Wolves to advance to the semi-final.

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St Helens and the Catalans last met each other at the start of May this year with the match ending in favour of St Helens. Going into the match, there were doubts as to how the Saints were going to perform on the day considering that the team’s top try scorer Ben Barba was out nursing an injury. However, Barba’s loss wasn’t felt that much as St Helens rallied to a 26-12 victory.

Comparing the two teams’ last 10 results, St Helens has the edge as it has won 9 out of its 10 games. The Saints have won impressively against some top teams including Castleford, Widnes, Salford, the Catalans, Hull and Wigan.

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St Helens’ last loss was against Wakefield. On the other hand, the Catalans have had some mixed fortunes winning six and losing four of its past 10 matches. The Catalan won against Leeds, Salford, Whitehaven, Hull, York and Huddersfield and lost matches against St Helen and other matches against Hull, Wigan and Castleford. The odds in this match will be slightly in favour of St Helens basing on the recent statistics.

Double-Header Semi-Finals

For the first time in the history of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, the semi-finals of the year’s competition will be double-headers (i.e. they will be played on the same day at the same venue), at the Macron Stadium, Bolton.

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The Macron Stadium which is a 30,000 seater stadium has in the past played host to other big matches including some international test matches and also the World Challenge Cup games. With the matches also being aired on the BBC, this year’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup matches are likely to command a huge following.

Speaking after the announcement of this development, Ralph Rimmer who is the League Interim Executive Officer said that this development is necessary and must be embraced by everyone involved in league rugby as it presents an opportunity for the sport to attract more supporters.

He said that the fact that the two matches will be played in the same stadium on the same day will attract huge crowds more than the crowds that came to watch previous Challenge Cup semi-finals. Live broadcast of the two semi-final ties is also going to put the competition on the world map as people from all corners of the globe can follow the action live.

Rimmer went on to say that the Rugby League prides itself on being innovative and this is one such innovation which is going to propagate the Rugby League brand further and also strengthen it.

The Head of TV Sport at BBC, Philip Bernie said that his group had been working with the Rugby League for quite some time and he is happy that their efforts have finally bear fruit. The first semi-final is going to be played at 12:30am UK time and the second semi-final at 2:45pm UK time.

OPINION | Challenge Cup Double-Header Will be RFL’s Master Stroke

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