Challenge Cup 2024 commences, Famous families & Farewell friendlies: A look ahead to this weekend’s action

James Gordon
Kobe Poching, Jake Webster, Tony Smith, Jack Owens, Challenge Cup trophy

Kobe Poching (top left), Jake Webster (top right), Tony Smith's Hull FC (bottom left) & Jack Owens (bottom right) will all be in action in either the Challenge Cup or a friendly this weekend - Alamy

The sons of former Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity back-rower Willie Poching will be among the players kicking off the 2024 Challenge Cup this weekend.

Back-rower Will and brother Kobe, who made his senior debut while coached by his dad at Wakefield, have both been named in the Wests Warriors side for their first round clash against Newsome Panthers on Saturday.

Kobe played for Trinity in their Boxing Day clash with Leeds at the end of 2021, but didn’t feature for them in Super League, though did play for Doncaster on dual-registration.

Utility Will has played in the community game for several years, featuring for Shaw Cross Sharks and Westgate Common amongst others.

Wests Warriors are a London-based community club who reached the third round of the cup last year, where they faced seven-time winners Widnes Vikings, who beat them 80-4.

At this stage last season, they registered an impressive 26-16 win away at Skirlaugh before beating London Chargers in the second round.

Challenge Cup 2024 commences: A look ahead to this weekend’s action

There are 10 first round ties taking place in total this weekend, with Hammersmith Hills Hoists taking on Medway Dragons at Chiswick RFC.

The Royal Air Force take on the Royal Navy in a ‘forces derby’ which will be streamed live on BBC iPlayer and the red button on Saturday afternoon (12.30pm kick-off), from RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire.

Elsewhere, the British Army are in action away at Fryston Warriors, while Oulton Raiders host West Bowling and Ashton Bears travel to Doncaster Toll Bar.

There is Scottish representation in the shape of Edinburgh Eagles, who travel to face Lowca, and Wales are represented by South Wales Jets, who entertain Stanningley.

On Sunday, in the final game of the round, Orrell St James host Haresfinch. That game will be broadcast live on The Sportsman.

Farewell friendlies: A look ahead to this weekend’s action

Away from the Challenge Cup, two players will celebrate their careers in special games over the weekend.

Former New Zealand international Jake Webster, who played in Super League for Hull KR and Castleford Tigers, will put his boots on for the final time as Keighley Cougars take on Super League side Cas at Cougar Park.

The fixture was due to take place this time last year as part of his testimonial, but it was postponed due to adverse weather conditions.

Instead, the two sides have arranged to meet this Sunday in both clubs’ first hit-out of pre-season in a farewell game for the powerful centre.

Webster featured once for Keighley in 2023, playing in a 34-6 win over his former club Bradford Bulls. He was previously part of the Cougars’ invincible League One title winning side in 2022. He has since taken on various off-field roles with the Cougars and is now their Director of Rugby.

Widnes skipper Jack Owens is also celebrating his testimonial, marking 10 years with the Vikings across two spells.

They welcome Whitehaven to the DCBL Stadium looking to build on a 42-0 win over Workington Town that kick-started their 2024 last week.

Owens came through the scholarship and academy system at Widnes, making his first team debut as a 16-year-old, and went on to feature regularly in Super League for them between 2012 & 2015.

A move to St Helens followed, before he arrived back at Widnes via Leigh – then Centurions – ahead of the 2019 campaign.

Every Challenge Cup game & friendly taking place this weekend

There are three other friendlies taking place, with the only other Super League side in action being Hull FC, who make the trip to Odsal to face Bradford.

Featherstone Rovers host newly-promoted Dewsbury Rams while Barrow Raiders continue their preparations for the new season with a visit from North Wales Crusaders.

Challenge Cup first round

Clock Face Miners v Heworth (Saturday, 1.30pm)

Doncaster Toll Bar v Ashton Bears (Saturday, 1.30pm)

Fryston Warriors v British Army (Saturday, 2pm)

Hammersmith Hills Hoists v Medway Dragons (Saturday, 3pm)

Lowca v Edinburgh Eagles (Saturday, 1pm)

Orrell St James v Haresfinch (Sunday, 2pm)

Oulton Raiders v West Bowling (Saturday, 2pm)

Royal Air Force v Royal Navy (Saturday, 12.30pm)

South Wales Jets v Stanningley (Saturday, 1.30pm)

Wests Warriors v Newsome Panthers (Saturday, 2pm)

Pre-season friendlies

Barrow Raiders v North Wales Crusaders (Saturday, 3pm)

Bradford Bulls v Hull FC (Sunday, 2pm)

Featherstone Rovers v Dewsbury Rams (Sunday, 3pm)

Keighley Cougars v Castleford Tigers (Sunday, 2pm)

Widnes Vikings v Whitehaven (Sunday, 3pm)

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