Hull FC vs. Castleford Tigers
Friday May 10, 19:35 BST
Live on Sky Sports Arena
2016 and 2017 winners Hull can advance
This weekend sees Super League's elite enter the Challenge Cup, with the sixteeen sides remaining in the 118th renewal of the competition just three wins away from a trip to Wembley. Lee Radford's Hull FC lifted the famous trophy in 2016 and 2017 and should have the measure of an out-of-form Castleford in Friday's televised game.
The Airlie Birds were blown away 37-6 by current Challenge Cup holders Catalans last week but had previously been making good progress in the league, winning four of their five matches in April, their only defeat coming against the mighty St Helens. They've been among the worst-hit in the sport's recent injury crisis centering around the busy Easter schedule but are set for massive comebacks from star halves Marc Sneyd and Albert Kelly.
The Cup hasn't been kind to Daryl Powell's side in recent years, and having seen off Hull 26-18 in Round 2 of Super League they return to the KC Stadium in a slump, with Friday's 26-14 defeat against Warrington their sixth in eight matches. Like Hull, the Tigers have been beset by injuries and are missing top try-scorer Greg Eden and the influential Paul McShane this time, though experienced winger James Clare is among the names set to return.
Back the home side to book their place in the quarter-finals and cover the handicap.
Bradford Bulls vs. Leeds Rhinos
Saturday May 11, 14:30 BST
Live on BBC One
No easy task for Leeds in mouth-watering derby
Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls meet for the first time in five years in Saturday's televised clash and the troubled visitors won't have it easy against their West Yorkshire Championship rivals.
The Rhinos sit just two places off bottom in Super League and travel to Odsal with another new man in charge, their fourth different head coach in just ten months, in Richard Agar. The Headingley side breezed past part-timers Workington 78-6 in the fifth round but a tenth defeat of the year in the league at Salford last week proved to be the end for Dave Furner. Once again their defence looked woeful and the Bulls will be licking their lips at the thought of an upset.
John Kear's side have been ticking along nicely in their first season back in the second tier and last week's 36-16 defeat at trailblazers Toronto ended a seven-game winning run. Hopefully the travel from Canada and a fairly quick turnaround won't hinder them but they couldn't ask for a better game in which to shrug off any jet lag. The Bulls have a number of players with ties to Leeds, including on-loan scrum-half Jordan Lilley, who revealed this week that the Rhinos won't be renewing his contract at the end of the season. He'll have a point to prove and could do some real damage with the boot.
In team news, Konrad Hurrell, who has been one of the few shining lights for Leeds this season, looks set to return, while Bradford can welcome back their experienced centre Jake Webster.
The hosts get a sixteen-point start on the handicap on the Sportsbook and that has to be the bet given they look guaranteed to crack the leaky Leeds defence, the wily Kear, who has lifted the Cup with Sheffield and Hull, sure to pinpoint their weaknesses.