Adam Everitt – Spotlight on the Challenge Cup: Round Four

The Spotlight is on the lack of spotlight

On Thursday night at the KC Stadium Salford beat Hull FC thanks to a golden point drop goal in a thrilling contest to proceed to the fifth round of the Challenge Cup.

This game was not shown by a single television broadcaster.

On Friday and Saturday broadcasters omitted all Rugby League from their listings and to top it off, the BBC then screened Huddersfield versus St Helens with a 2:15pm kick off, just15 minutes after the other 11 games had started that day.

This mean’t that 21,355 supporters from 22 clubs missed the only televised Challenge Cup game of the weekend because their teams were playing, and that is an utter disgrace.

So far the Rugby Football League have not passed comment on this, and I doubt that they will.

After a record-breaking World Cup last year that saw 2.6 million people tune in to see New Zealand’s last-gasp defeat of England at Wembley live on the BBC, and with PremierSports averaging between 30,000 to 50,000 viewers per game in the group stages, you’d be forgiven for thinking that broadcasters would be clambering over themselves for more Rugby League action.

Sadly, the reality is quite the opposite.

The Challenge Cup has for decades been filmed by the BBC but they have shown a distinct lack of respect to the world’s oldest sporting knock out competition, so much so that they showed Rugby Union highlights during the presentation.

It is a shame because the BBC’s production is actually quite good.

Rugby League in the northern hemisphere is not a sport divided by a roadwork- and traffic jam-plagued motorway; Rugby League is an international sport but the jewel in its crown is not glimmering on national television for all to see as often as we’d like.

Uproar At Huddersfield
With a little over 90 seconds remaining and with the score tied at ten apiece, Huddersfield talisman Danny Brough kicked a drop goal from around 25 yards to win the game against St Helens.

Referee Phil Bentham, who was stood in a perfect position to see it sail over, chalked it off.

Brough’s response was one of anguish, frustration and astonishment as the away side went down the other end and Luke Walsh slotted one of his own over. You don’t have to

be a competent lip reader to grasp the message directed at Bentham and co., and I think common sense should prevail when this is reviewed. It was a call that, at the very least, should have been referred to the video ref but on inspection the decision was wrong.

Challenge Cup Round Up
Five Super League clubs have already been knocked out of the Challenge Cup. Wakefield were hammered 60-6 at home against 11-try Leeds as Warrington came from behind to sneak past Hull KR. Rangi Chase kicked Salford into the fifth round with a golden point drop goal against Hull on Thursday night and Catalan put London away 40-28 in the south of France.

A notable mention goes to Dewsbury who were just 12-0 down at half time against Wigan before the cup holders ran out 58-6 winners in west Yorkshire. Sheffield are through after putting 70 on London Skolars, as are Featherstone who beat North Wales Crusaders 66-0. Widnes had a scare at Halifax but held their nerve to proceed, and Leigh and Swinton recorded narrow victories over Rochdale and York respectively.

Bradford coasted past Oldham and Doncaster beat North Wales 68-18; Castleford won comfortably at Batley and Hunslet overcame Workington. Keighley booked a place in the next round thanks to a 58-24 defeat of Barrow.

Try Of The Round
Junior S’au’s try in the second half of Salford’s game against Hull was magical.

Full back Jake Mullaney defused a high kick and passed left to Francis Meli who in turn game the ball to Rangi Chase. Chase beat three men and hit a gap, sprinting to Hull’s 30 metre line before giving it to Mullaney who slipped a pass to Sau to round Jamie Shaul and score next to the post.

Length of the field tries like that are what we love.

Class In A Glass
If selected this weekend veteran Leeds’ prop forward Jamie Peacock will play in his 500th career game, an amazing achievement.

Ferres Sees Red For Spear Tackle
Referee Phil Bentham had no option but to send off Brett Ferres after his spear tackle on Jonny Lomax. Ferres’ tackle resembled something out of the World Wrestling Entertainment and although not intended to cause injury in any way, was reckless and deserving of the 5 game ban handed to the Huddersfield player.

Fifth Round Draw
Bradford v Catalan
Castleford v Sheffield
Leeds v St Helens
Leigh v Featherstone
Salford v Widnes
Swinton v Keighley
Wigan v Hunslet
Warrington v Doncaster

All ties are to be played on Sunday 27th April, with the exception of Leeds versus St Helens, which will be televised on Saturday 26th April.

What I Love About Adam Walker
Hull KR prop forward Adam Walker was absolutely fantastic against Warrington on Sunday, scoring one try and earning the man of the match award. Walker hit everything that moved, ran the ball well and in one set made four straight tackles. After a second half try, Walker stood in the middle of the pitch, arms aloft and commanded his team mates to keep going. Rugby League fans love this type of behaviour and it was great to see.

Harris Joins The Devilution
Iestyn Harris has left his post as Shaun Wane’s assistant at Wigan to spearhead Salford’s playoff challenge after the Red Devils relieved Brian Noble of his duties recently.

The mad doctor Marwan Koukash made the managerial change after an indifferent start to the season that see’s Salford sit in ninth place on 6 points.

It came as a huge surprise to this author that Salford took a punt on Noble in the first place and fully expected the relation to end but as Koukash once said, you don’t marry the first girl you sleep with.

Noble’s last act as coach was overseeing the golden point win at Hull on Thursday night but he will now seek legal advice on his sacking.

Nick Slyny (London) – 1 game for a dangerous throw against Catalan.
Brett Ferres (Huddersfield) – 5 games for a dangerous throw against St Helens.

Injury update
Leeds have been rocked by the news that Paul Aiton will be out for around 3 months whilst he undergoes a course of proscribed medication. Wigan will be without Josh Charnley for 8 weeks after the prolific winger twisted his knee on Friday night against Dewsbury.

Player Movement
Bradford have signed unattached French prop Jamal Fakir until the end of the season. Wigan’s young hooker Logan Tomkins has joined Iestyn Harris at Salford on a month-long loan deal and is expected to play against Bradford on Friday. Hull FC have pulled out of the deal to sign Bath RU winger and part-timer Eorl Crabtree impersonator Tom Biggs.

The Sun newspaper have reported that Huddersfield, Hull KR and Salford are interested in signing New Zealand international second rower Simon ‘Captain’ Mannering, who is coming to the end of his New Zealand Warriors contract. I think this is unlikely, but such a signing would be a major coup for a Super League club and the competition as a whole.

Shaun Wane is on New Zealand Warriors’s radar as they seek out a replacement for out-going coach Matthew Elliott and ex-Catalan and Union convert Setaimata Sa may join Hull FC from London Irish.

Final Thought
Ian Ramsdale presents a weekly look at Rugby League in the south of England via his podcast ‘Rugby League Down South’. The broadcast is a personal favourite and I’d recommend it to all fans of The Greatest Game. You can visit the site here:

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