Rugby League Challenge Cup tips


Hull set for Wembley in Cup Kings battle

Warrington Wolves vs. Hull FC
Saturday July 27, 14:00 BST
Live on BBC One and iPlayer

It's a repeat of the 2016 final in the first of the Challenge Cup semis at Bolton on Saturday and Hull FC are worth backing to reach Wembley for the third time in four years.

Lee Radford's men completed a fantastic comeback three years ago to triumph 12-10 over the Wolves and retained the famous trophy with victory over Wigan. They sit third in the Super League table and line up on the back of wins against London and Leeds.

Hull have seen off Castleford and reigning Cup-holders Catalans to find themselves just 80 minutes away from another trip to Wembley.

The return of the talismanic Albert Kelly is huge for the Black and Whites who will have their first-choice halves pairing on the field, Kelly playing alongside the dual Lance Todd Trophy winner and points-machine Marc Sneyd.

Warrington Wolves have been perched in second in the Super League table since the middle of April but are now just two points clear of Hull. Last week, the Wolves lost to Castleford, their third defeat in four games.

Like their opponents, though, Warrington have built up a fantastic record in this competition and are bidding for a sixth final appearance in 11 years, having won it in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

Steve Price's side suffered an unwanted double last season with defeat at Wembley and in the Grand Final, but they have certainly shown their mettle as they bid to put matters right, knocking out 19-time winners Wigan, and Hull KR away, on their journey to the semis.

Forward Sita Akauola is banned but Ben Murdoch-Masila, a tryscorer in four successive Cup rounds for the Wolves last year, including the final, is back and looks a ready-made replacement.

It's 1-1 between the clubs in the league this year, Hull coming out on top 19-12 at Warrington in May having been battered 63-12 at home in Round 8. The Black and Whites are 6/4 to be heading down the M1 again on August 24th with victory in 80 minutes and that's a bet worth having given there is something about the Cup that has brought out the very best in them in recent times.

Lomax to do some damage again for 250-1-on Saints

St Helens vs. Halifax
Saturday July 27, 16:30 BST
Live on BBC Two and iPlayer

St Helens should ease into the final against their Championship opponents and the prolific Jonny Lomax should be backed to help them on their way.

Part-timers Halifax have a rich Challenge Cup pedigree having won it five times, most recently in 1987 when beating St Helens 19-18. They've seen off Hunslet, London Broncos, Dewsbury and the Bradford Bulls to get this far.

Halifax would be pulling off one of the biggest upsets in rugby league history if they were to reach Wembley this time, with the Sportsbook giving them a forty-point start.

Having reached the qualifiers last season, Halifax's league campaign has been disappointing in 2019. They've lost 12 of their 22 matches and they parted company with their most successful coach in recent times, Richard Marshall, at the end of April.

In one of those tremendous twists of fate the Challenge Cup throws up, Marshall will be sitting on the Saints bench on Saturday having been appointed as assistant to Justin Holbrook last month. You can be sure he will have pinpointed the weaknesses in his old side.

The runaway Super League leaders St Helens are just a couple of victories away from securing the Regular Season Shield with weeks to spare. Remarkably they haven't reached the Challenge Cup final since 2008, when they won it for the third year in a row. This is a golden opportunity to end a frustrating run of semi-final defeats in all competitions and return to Wembley, having beaten Huddersfield and Wakefield in the preceding rounds.

Justin Holbrook rested nine first-teamers as they slumped to only their third defeat in 2019 at London last week and all bar leading scorer Lachlan Coote are set to return.
St Helens -40 will be going into plenty of Saturday Betfair coupons but better bets are to be had about one of those returning stars, Jonny Lomax, to continue his fantastic try-scoring run.

Lomax crossed for the 15 time this year in his last game against Wigan and should be backed to strike in both halves at odds-against.




This post first appeared here

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