The Challenge Cup semi-final draw sees Hull face Leeds while Wigan will take on Salford.
Wigan are the lowest ranked Super League side left in the competition following their 27-26 win over Warrington, in contrast to Salford who are the highest ranked side following Castleford’s defeat to Hull – and the Red Devils’ own win over Wakefield.
Hull and Leeds will mean the past two winners of the competition will meet for a place in the final. Hull laid down a marker by knocking out the Super League leaders, while Leeds’s route has been pretty straightforward – as they beat Featherstone Rovers 58-0.
Following the draw, Wigan seem to be the early favourites to lift their 20th Challenge Cup. Saturday’s game saw the return of many of their first team players and if they can keep them fit, while improving on certain areas that have let them down in recent weeks they will fancy their chances of making it to Wembley.
This is certainly their best opportunity to win silverware this season and one wonders if with more players now available prior to next month’s semi-final, whether a few of their front line players will be carefully managed with that game in mind.
Their meetings with Salford has seen both sides win once each. Salford are no strangers to taking big scalps this season and have been remarkably consistent. Early prices of 8/1 following the draw seem on the long side.
It has been a while since they’ve won silverware – and you’d have to go back to 1938 until the last time they won the cup. Salford are very much battling on all fronts and they’re not to be taken lightly.
Hull and Leeds looks like a game that could be hard to call for the bookies early on – with both at 3/1 with Sky Bet. If Hull are in the same kind of form they were against Castleford when they face Leeds then the Rhinos could have their work cut out – though in their last meeting, Leeds managed to put 50 points on Hull during the Easter period.
Leeds are currently a point ahead of the cup holders in the Super League table, and have yet to suffer back-to-back defeats this season.
Both ties look nicely poised. We’ll keep a close eye on their form prior to their meetings at the end of July.
Challenge Cup outright odds:
Wigan 13/8 (Various)
Hull 3/1 (Betfred)
Leeds 3/1 (Ladbrokes/Coral)
Salford 8/1 (SkyBet, Stan James)