Five things: Challenge Cup fifth round special

One – The danger of the Cup

What is it about the Challenge Cup and inanimate objects?

Three weeks ago Paul Anderson was wrestling with a television in the wake of Huddersfield’s defeat against St Helens.

Today Denis Betts showed he’s enough strength to probably still be playing, thumping a table in Salford’s new stadium so hard that it came clean off from its metal fittings.

Widnes were winning 24-8 at the time and hadn’t shown any signs of the late implosion that almost ruined what was an otherwise impressive victory.

Betts at least had the good grace to leave the table neatly on the floor at full time, but it does pose one question: what state would that stadium have been in had Salford snatched a winner?


Two – Who’s the sadist?

Betts was relatively calm after the dust had settled, rightly insisting that his team had dominated.

He even had time to launch an attack on rugby league’s fixture planners, saying: “Whoever decided that this was going to be the round after the Easter weekend wants shooting.

“Find him and show him what all those players have gone through and how hard it’s been, and then ask him what the hell he was thinking when he was putting the schedule together. (Whoever it is) is a sadistic git.”

At roughly the same time, Marwan Koukash was taking to Twitter.

He wrote: “I have done all I can to bring success to Salford. The players NEED to respect the shirt they wear.”

That sounds like an ominous warning from this angle. Saturday’s trip to Catalan suddenly looks massive.


Three – Hall or nothing

Steve McNamara’s task of picking two wingers in the World Cup was hard enough when he was only choosing from three contenders.

This year there are five likely lads; two at Leeds, two at Wigan and one at St Helens.

But Saturday at Headingley showed why four of those blokes are battling for one place. Ryan Hall is nailed down in one spot.

Brian McDermott said: “Some of the things Ryan did defensively probably got us the game.

“They asked a huge amount of questions from cross-field kicks, and then there were a couple of tackles on try-scoring opportunities. Had he not done that, Saints would have come up with a bit more.”


Four – Stuttering Saints

Luke Walsh’s injury undoubtedly had a part to play in Saints’ lack of thrust in attack, but we wonder whether Nathan Brown would – given a second chance – change his decision to omit Lance Hohaia from Saturday’s team.

Hohaia’s only contribution was a brief interview with the BBC during the game.

As good a talker as he is, wouldn’t it have been more useful to actually have him out there giving Saints a bit of something going forward?


Five – Championship challenges

Congratulations to Leigh and Keighley, the only teams from outside the top flight to make the Challenge Cup quarter finals.

Both Paul Rowley and Paul March are doing excellent jobs. Leigh have started the year superbly, while the Cougars will be confident of claiming a play-off place come the end of the year.

In the meantime, there’s still a chance one of them could make it to the semi-finals. All eyes on Monday night’s draw…

Leave your thoughts on the weekend’s action in the comments box below.

Follow Neil Barraclough on Twitter @neilbarraclough

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