Challenge Cup quarter-final debrief: Huddersfield stun Catalans, Hull KR get revenge on Leigh, semi-final line-up begins to take shape

Ben Olawumi
Hull KR celebrate a try, Challenge Cup trophy, Huddersfield Giants celebrate a try

Hull KR (left) & Huddersfield Giants have booked their spots in the 2024 Challenge Cup semi-finals

Two of this year’s four Challenge Cup quarter-finals were played out this evening, with an all-Super League line-up. With the results now in, here is our debrief of today’s action…

Huddersfield Giants stun Catalans Dragons

Undoubtedly the result of the day, and we’d wager likely the weekend, came over in Perpignan. Super League leaders Catalans Dragons were blown away on home soil by Huddersfield Giants, who head home with a semi-final spot courtesy of a stunning 34-6 win.

This feels like a real statement victory for Ian Watson’s side, who have now won four in a row. Not many gave them much of a chance when the quarter-final draw got made having lost all three league games so far this year against teams in the top half.

But they got their win in the south of France in style, 16-0 up at the break thanks to tries from Jake Connor, Adam Milner and Adam Swift.

Seb Ikahihifo, Esan Marsters and Kevin Naiqama all got over for tries in the second 40, with Catalans’ only points coming through Matt Ikuvalu. By the time he crossed the whitewash midway through that second half, the tie was already well over.

Ian Watson Huddersfield Giants SWpix
Huddersfield Giants head coach Ian Watson

The only downside to tonight’s win for the Giants was an injury to Hugo Salabio, details of which are yet to be confirmed.

Steve McNamara’s Dragons – who saw Arthur Romano sin-binned – haven’t made the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup since winning the competition in 2018, and their wait for a shot at a second Challenge Cup lift goes on for another year.

Huddersfield meanwhile last made it into the last four of the cup in 2022, the year Wigan Warriors beat them in the final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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Hull KR get their revenge on Leigh Leopards

This result went the way that most expected it to pre-game, with Hull KR‘s 26-14 win sealing their last-four spot for a third year on the spin, but that result doesn’t really tell the tale of an absolutely classic cup tie.

Willie Peters’ Robins got their revenge on Leigh, who beat them in the cup final under the Wembley arch last August, but their semi-final place wasn’t earned at a canter.

The hosts found themselves 8-4 down at the break at Craven Park, with the Leopards on the front foot for much of the first 40 despite still being depleted in numbers through injuries to key players.

Mikey Lewis Hull KR Alamy
Hull KR’s Mikey Lewis

Whatever Peters said at half-time worked however, with KR coming out fired up for the second half and taking control with two tries in quick succession from Joe Burgess – who was named man of the match – and Kelepi Tanginoa. Burgess was rampant throughout, constantly getting the hosts on the front foot with good yardage.

Adrian Lam’s Leythers refused to give up their crown easily, and kept themselves in the arm wrestle through Umyla Hanley’s try, but when Niall Evalds crossed for the Robins with circa 10 minutes remaining, that killed any hopes the Leopards held of a comeback.

Elliot Minchella’s four-pointer on the hooter for KR gave the scoreline a more handsome feel than Leigh’s performance had perhaps deserved, but nonetheless, the Robins march on.

They have now made the last four of the Challenge Cup three years on the spin, and will harbour genuine hopes that 2024 is the year they’re finally able to lift the coveted piece of silverware again. 1980 is the Robins’ only triumph in the competition to date.

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Tomorrow’s semi-final draw line-up begins to take shape

As was always going to be the case come this time of the evening, we now know the first two names that will be in the hat for tomorrow’s semi-final draw – Huddersfield & Hull KR.

Joining them in the last four will be one of Castleford Tigers & Wigan Warriors, and one of St Helens & Warrington Wolves.

Challenge Cup trophy - Alamy
The Challenge Cup trophy

As the draw is being done at half-time of tomorrow’s tie between the latter pair, Saints & Warrington will share a ball in the hat. The draw will form part of the BBC’s coverage of that quarter-final clash between the two near neighbours.

The draw for the semi-finals of the Women’s Challenge Cup will also be made at half-time of the Saints v Warrington game, with the four clubs involved in that as follows:

  • St Helens
  • Leeds Rhinos
  • York Valkyrie or Featherstone Rovers
  • Wigan Warriors or Cardiff Demons

CHALLENGE CUP SEMI-FINAL DRAWS: Everything you need to know about tomorrow’s draws with Wembley firmly in sight