Challenge Cup fifth round preview

Four Super League teams join the Challenge Cup at the fifth round stage.

Widnes v Coventry (Saturday, 1pm)

A first ever meeting between the two sides as the Bears make the trip north to face Super League opposition for the first time in a competitive fixture.

There was wild speculation last season that Coventry may be a destination for the Vikings franchise should Widnes decide to sell it, something which the club quickly moved to dismiss when it hit the press.

Widnes will be looking to get some form and also some bodies back, having won just three games so far this season and suffering from a terrible injury list which has seen them use 31 players already in 2018.

That looks set to become at least 32 on Saturday when Papua New Guinea prop Stanton Albert comes in for his debut, following in the footsteps of brother Wellington. Stanton has been getting game time during a loan spell at North Wales Crusaders in League One.

Widnes have named 12 homegrown products in their 19-man squad, as well as Patrick Ah Van and Lloyd White who could both return from a few months out injured.

Warrington v Bradford (Saturday, 3pm)

It’s a reminder of the Wolves’ disappointing 2017 as they take a break from Super League to play League One side Bradford on Saturday.

Steve Price’s men are on a fine run of form, winning six consecutive games, which sees them sit third in the table and they are not only well on course to avoid a repeat of last year’s bottom four finish, but also push for a play-off spot and potential Grand Final place.

Bradford haven’t been given much hope of an upset, but their coach John Kear knows better than anyone how to upset the odds in the Challenge Cup.

The Bulls have once again hit the headlines this week for their stance on live streaming games, having been denied permission by Warrington to broadcast a delayed broadcast of this game. This follows a rather public spat with Workington a fortnight ago.

For Warrington, three players are in line to make their first team debuts, including Eribe Doro, who could be the first player born in this century to pull on the primrose and blue.

York v Catalans (Sunday, 3pm)

Probably the tie of the round sees Super League strugglers Catalans Dragons visit a York side creating waves for their noise off the field, but that is also coming along nicely on the field in League One.

It’s certainly got all the makings of a banana skin for Steve McNamara’s men, who have just one win under their belt this season.

A good crowd is expected at Bootham Crescent for a game that will also be shown live on the BBC Sport website.

The Dragons beat York 92-8 in Perpignan when the two sides met in the competition in 2013, and have never lost to lower league opposition in the competition.

Oldham v Hull KR (Sunday, 3pm)

This one’s got previous, as the Roughyeds dumped the Robins out of the competition two years ago.

Then a Championship club, Oldham saw off their Super League opponents 36-22 at Craven Park.

Things are likely to be different this time round, with Oldham languishing mid-table in League One, and the Robins no doubt keen to put together a cup run under Tim Sheen and maybe replicate 2015 when they reached Wembley.

Oldham fans were left disappointed on Thursday night when a planned visit of the Challenge Cup trophy itself was ruined when it turned out the RFL had double booked the famous old trophy.

This game will take place at Bower Fold, home of Stalybridge Celtic football club, rather than Oldham’s usual Vestacare Stadium home – though the Roughyeds are of course no strangers to the ground, having played there during their Championship years.

Doncaster v Featherstone
Leigh v London B
Toronto v Barrow (at Barrow)
Whitehaven v Rochdale (all Sunday 3pm)

Among the other four games are a host of intriguing sub plots.

Barrow have a chance to prove their 8-8 draw against Toronto wasn’t a flash in the pan, as they welcome the Wolfpack to Craven Park for a second time this season.

Yet to play a home game this season, Toronto have been going through the players, with three departing the club this week, including Joe Westerman.

This competition may well be seen as a distraction for these two sides.

League One leaders Doncaster, with five wins from six, host Championship high-fliers Featherstone, who this week announced a new deal for coach John Duffy.

Leigh, gradually building after a shocking start to the season, will hope for a repeat of their Easter win over London Broncos, while Whitehaven will fancy their chances of an upset, as they host Championship strugglers Rochdale.

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