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After a sensational Challenge Cup final, the men of the Halifax Panthers and the Batley Bulldogs had something to live up to as they took the field for the final of the AB Sundecks 1895 Trophy on the hallowed Wembley turf.

Halifax won the first meeting between the two sides in March by 20-16, but lost by 20-12 at the summer bash in May before a massive 42-0 win for the Bulldogs on the 9th July.

Batley were favourites with the bookies as they are currently fourth in the league table and secure in the play-off positions while Halifax look much more precarious in sixth place.

It promised to be another great game.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 12th Aug 2023 7:46 PM
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The engraver would be scratching a name onto the World-famous Challenge Cup which had not adorned it for the at least the last forty-two years as the Leigh Leopards took on Hull Kingston Rovers in the competition with one hundred and twenty-six years of history.

Leigh’s terrific recent form meant that they came into the game as narrow favourites over a Hull KR side who knew that this was their best chance of silverware in a season which has seen them hovering around the last of the Super League play-off places.

Wembley was filled with a lot of excited fans from both sides of the Pennines as two sides not used to the long journey south made a welcome change to the usual old guard who normally frequent this flagship occasion.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 12th Aug 2023 5:04 PM
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In a repeat of last year’s Women’s Challenge Cup Final, Leeds Rhinos and St Helens met in the first time that the Final had been staged at Wembley Stadium, the Rhinos hoping to overcome the disappointment of an 18-8 loss fifteen months ago.

Saints are currently second in the Group 1 table with the Rhinos in third spot and when the sides last met at the end of May it was the Saints who were again winners by a 38-18 scoreline.

Saints were the favourites to record a third consecutive Final win and record their seventh victory, while the Rhinos are the second most successful side in the competition, looking for their third win and their first since 2019.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 12th Aug 2023 1:47 PM
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Wembley Stadium will stage another feast of Rugby League including the Betfred Women’s and Men’s Challenge Cup Finals on Saturday June 8 in 2024 – reverting to an earlier slot in a restructured calendar.

Tickets will go on sale next week for an event which will also include the fifth AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final and the inspiresport Champion Schools.

The Final of Rugby League’s oldest knockout competition returns to Wembley today after a year at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – with history to be made as the Women’s Challenge Cup Final between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens will be played at the national stadium for the first time before the Men’s Final between Hull KR and Leigh Leopards.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 12th Aug 2023 9:10 AM
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Saturday afternoon will see the first ever Wembley meeting in a Challenge Cup final between the Leigh Leopards and Hull Kingston Rovers with one of the clubs’ names to be engraved onto the famous trophy for the first time in at least forty-three years.

Hull KR were in a Cup Final as recently as 2015 when they lost heavily to the Leeds Rhinos and their only win in seven finals so far came in the 1980 final when they beat their nearest and dearest, Hull FC, by 10-5 in front of a crowd of 95,000 people.

Leigh have a much briefer, but more successful cup final pedigree having won on both of their previous visits to the former twin towers.

They last won the competition in 1971 when they defeated Leeds by 24-7, and they also win the trophy in 1921 when they beat Halifax by 13-0, but it has been a long time between drinks.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Wed 9th Aug 2023 4:27 PM
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Eighth placed Halifax Panthers looked on a hiding to nothing as they welcomed the runaway league leaders, Featherstone Rovers, to The Shay for an unusual Sunday evening kick-off in front of the ViaPlay cameras.

While Featherstone are already close to uncatchable for the Minor Premiership, and a shoe in for promotion, a win this evening would give them a ten-point cushion with just six games remaining in the regular season.

A win for the Panthers would lift them back into the top six and a potential play off place but they came into the game with one eye on next week’s 1895 Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 6th Aug 2023 7:14 PM
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Leigh haven’t won at Headingley for thirty-nine years but sitting in second spot in the table, they sent a full-strength side over the Pennines, despite being within a week of a Challenge Cup Final appearance, optimistic for the win as they took on new look Leeds Rhinos side who will now have to see out the season without the game controlling Blake Austin who was released to the Castleford Tigers during the week.

Leeds had been made the favourites by the bookies, the Leopards getting a four-point start on the coupon, as those with a betting mind thought that the lure of a cup final berth would activate the ‘cup self-preservation’ mode amongst their leading players.

The loss would hurt the Rhinos much more than it would Leigh.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 6th Aug 2023 4:53 PM
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The clear league leaders, the Catalans Dragons, arrived at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium to take on a Warrington Wolves side seemingly in freefall after they had lost their previous five outings and split with the coach Daryl Powell after a poor run of results.

Depending on the results below them, a win which was much fancied by the bookies could see the Dragons six points clear at the top of the table and a loss for the home side would put them perilously close to dropping out of the all-important top six as the season heads towards its climax.

But Dragons coach Steve McNamara knew better than to take the challenge of interim coach Gary Chambers side lightly, as his team tried to move two points closer to the minor premiership for the second time in three years.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 4th Aug 2023 9:43 PM
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It was #RememberRycroft night at Odsal, a cause close to our hearts at RLFANS, as the Bradford Bulls took on the Barrow Raiders in a fifth against thirteenth battle which could see the visitors out of the relegation places if they could pull off a win against a Bulls side who were looking to consolidate in the play-off places.

Donations were still open with JustGiving as a fabulous fundraising effort for three great charities heads for the £50,000 mark in remembrance of Rycroft Alport Foster, thanks to massive and generous support from the rugby league community.

The bookies could only see one winner, the Bulls winning it for Rycroft’s memory and they had given the visitors a massive points start on the coupon.

The Cumbrians were just making up the numbers.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Mon 31st Jul 2023 9:37 PM
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A seemingly unstoppable Leigh Leopards side fresh from their cup victory over St Helens last weekend travelled the short distance to the DW Stadium to take on a Wigan Warriors side still smarting from their own cup exit at the hands of Hull KR.

A win for the home side would lift them level on points with their opponents but victory for Leigh would lift the, level with the Catalans Dragons in top place going into the final quarter of the season.

Wigan were the favourites with the bookies with the Leopards having been given an eight point start on the coupon, the Leopards underdogs to overcome a 40 year Wigan drought.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 29th Jul 2023 2:56 PM
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There was nothing to choose between these two sides in 2023, the aggregate over the two games played so far being 37-37 as Leeds Rhinos travelled to the Totally Wicked Stadium to take on St Helens.

It was a weakened Saints side who had been dominating the headlines during the week after the injuries that they picked up in losing their semi-final against the Leigh Leopards against a Rhinos side who needed the win to keep alive their hopes of a play-off place in seven rounds time.

Saints were slight favourites but there was every chance that this would be a classic between two sides who had been almost inseparable throughout the season.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 28th Jul 2023 9:55 PM
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Leeds Beckett University, on behalf of the RFL, will host an ‘open discussion’ of concussion in Rugby League next Wednesday (2 August, 6:30pm-8pm) at the Carnegie School of Sport Building in Headingley.

Chaired by broadcaster Tanya Arnold and involving players, coaches and researchers, the event will explore preliminary data gathered from the recent Academy-level law trials, which seeks to quantify head impact and acceleration exposures in the sport with the aim of increasing understanding and reducing future risk.

The event will involve open discussion among interest parties from across Rugby League and is open to members of the public and media, who can register online to attend either in-person or virtually.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Wed 26th Jul 2023 10:39 AM
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Once place remained at Wembley on the 12th August, a three o’clock appointment to face the Leigh Leopards in the Challenge Cup final and it would be either the cup kings Wigan Warriors, or underdogs Hull KR who would be taking it.

Wigan are currently third in the table after losing just one game in their last seven, while Hull KR are sixth on the back of just three wins in their last seven.

The bookies fancied that it would be the Wigan Warriors travelling to Wembley to face near neighbours Leigh and the bookies agreed as they gave the Robins an eight-point start on the coupon.

We were set for the best game of the weekend.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 23rd Jul 2023 6:58 PM
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Few gave Wigan Warriors Women any hope of making cup progress to face St Helens women at Wembley as they came up against their nemesis, Leeds Rhinos, in the second Challenge Cup semi-final.

The Rhinos were massive favourites with the bookies, pundits, and most of the Warriors supporters after the Rhinos won the league fixture between the two sides by a massive 52-0 just a fortnight ago and because you have to look back five years in the record books for the last times that the Warriors were victorious over today’s opponents.

There was some criticism that the Rhinos were given home advantage for what should be a neutral ground semi-final but with a large contingency expected from Wigan for the later men’s semi-final against Hull KR, there should be plenty of support for the Warriors.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 23rd Jul 2023 4:04 PM
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A place at Wembley in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup final awaited the winners of today’s second semi-final between York RLFC knights and the Batley Bulldogs as the side placed third in the Championship table made the forty-mile trip to visit the side currently in a disappointing ninth spot.

Batley have a good recent record against York having won the last two meetings between the two sides and progressing the last time that these two met in this competition back in 2019, and the bookies agreed as they made the Bulldogs the favourites for the win.

After heavy overnight rain the conditions were slippy underfoot and ball handling likely to be unpredictable.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sun 23rd Jul 2023 1:41 PM
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After a breathless couple of Challenge Cup semi-finals, the curtain was brought down on the Saturday afternoon fixtures by an AB Sundecks 1895 Cup semi-final between the London Broncos and Halifax Panthers as two sides from the Championship looked to book their trip to Wembley Stadium.

All the pre-match indications were for a home win for the Broncos against a Halifax side who have struggled of late, seen the recent announcement of the end of season departure of their coach, and without a win against the Broncos in the capital since 2003.

The bookies agreed, the Broncos slight favourites for the win at Rosslyn Park but both sides were 80 minutes away from a Wembley appearance.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 22nd Jul 2023 6:40 PM
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All week, the talk had been whether the Leigh Leopards could make the first final of the season, and their first Challenge Cup final since they beat Leeds in the 1971 final, that being their first final since 1921, by beating the Super League Champions St Helens at the Halliwell-Jones.

Leigh won the only encounter of 2023 by 20-12 but that was back in round four when Saints were suffering a massive World Club Challenge hangover and the bookies made them slight favourites for the win and progress to the final as Leigh were given a six-point start on the handicap coupon.

Leigh brought a massive and vociferous support to Warrington, their fans full of hope and expectation that they would be the ones partying come the final whistle.

It was Leigh’s first semi-final since 1987 when they lost to St Helens by 14-8, the majority of the crowd hoping for a better outcome thirty-six years on.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 22nd Jul 2023 4:24 PM
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Cup semi-final weekend got underway with the first game of two for St Helens as their women’s side had the toughest of challenges against a league leading York Valkyrie side who are unbeaten so far in 2023 after six rounds of the league tournament.

The weather was likely to be a leveller, or at lead an additional variable in an already complex game as York named the same side which drew with the Leeds Rhinos last weekend.

York had won the earlier game in 2023 by some margin but this was likely to be a much tougher encounter for them with Saints desperate for a Wembley appearance as they look to make it three consecutive tournament wins.

A wet Halliwell-Jones Stadium welcomed the two sides onto the field.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 22nd Jul 2023 1:33 PM
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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 21st Jul 2023 5:46 AM
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There is a weekend of semi-finals ahead as six matches will decide the six sides who will walk out onto the hallowed turf at Wembley on the 12th August with their hopes pinned on lifting the silverware.

All games are to be played over Saturday and Sunday with one Men’s, Women’s and 1895 cup match being allocated to each day and at the end of the games we will know which six sides will be planning their trips to the nation’s capital.

We take a look at the fixtures and who we think are likely to progress.

Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Thu 20th Jul 2023 6:11 AM
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