That road’s too close! Challenge Cup game switched

James Gordon
Challenge Cup trophy SWpix

Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix

Games in the Challenge Cup are sometimes switched to enable a lower league side to earn a bit more money through ticket sales.

The recent third round tie between Southern Conference League amateurs Wests Warriors and Widnes was switched to the home of the Vikings, giving the Londoners a chance to play at a professional club ground and possibly earn a few quid.

League One side Midlands Hurricanes have requested that their tie against Bradford this weekend be switched to Odsal, with the winners going through to face Halifax or Barrow.

There are two remaining amateur sides left in this year’s competition and they were both drawn at home when the draw was made at Millom earlier this month.

Rochdale Mayfield will kick-off the fourth round ties on Saturday, when they welcome Championship outfit Newcastle to Mayfield Sports Centre.

The other, fellow National Conference League side Hunslet ARLFC, will take on last season’s Championship Grand Finalists Batley Bulldogs.

That tie has been switched from Hunslet Oval after being deemed unsuitable to host a professional game due to the proximity of a road to the pitch.

The game will take place at Mount Pleasant on Sunday April 2, with a 2pm kick-off – £10 for adults and concessions, with juniors free.

Birds eye view of Hunslet ARLFC’s home ground, alongside a main road (Google Maps)

Coming out on top in crunch clash

Hunslet ARLFC built up to the cup tie with a thrilling 17-16 win at Thatto Heath Crusaders in the NCL Premier Division at the weekend.

Captain Ben Shulver said: “We made a game of it, it was probably good for neutrals to watch.

“We have put some good performances together but you need these games against top four teams to know where you are and where you’re going to stand this year.”

In a performance full of character, Hunslet went through three players at fullback and finished the game with second rowers playing out of position.

“That’s how much strength we’ve got in-depth here, people can play all over the park and we took a few knocks out there, players going off injured, so we’re happy we got the win.”

“This is a very hard place to come. I don’t think we’ve won, obviously, we did when we were Parkside, but we haven’t won here for a couple of years now.”

Shulver, who had two stints with Wakefield Trinity on either side of a spell with Australian team Queanbeyan Kangaroos has been playing in the community game since 2017, admitted that he had lost some love for the sport before a call from Paul McShane convinced him to give National Conference League rugby a go and Ben has been a beacon of consistency.

“I’ve loved it ever since being down here playing.

“I enjoy doing this more, working, just coming and training Tuesday, Thursday with your mates, then going out on a Saturday and playing.”

Photo credit: Alex Shenton

A drop goal from Josh Gale, who completed the full range of scores with a try and two goals also against his name, proved the difference as the visitors held out for a 16-17 victory.

Gale scored the first try after half an hour of scoreless play, shooting over the line from a scrum and converting, but Thatto Heath Crusaders replied when Dave Pike and Connor Dwyer combined for winger Dan McGahan to go over wide out. Lewis Fairhurst couldn’t convert but was on hand to score and convert his own try in the second half.

In a game of fine margins, prolific Tyler Dargan, who has been a regular try scorer since making his debut for Hunslet Warriors, zipped over in the corner after Jake Dearden and Kieran Murphy combined and Gale was able to put his side ahead with the touchline conversion.

Crucially Hunslet scored again through Dearden, and Gale added his drop goal in the 76th minute, but there was still time for Thatto to ensure a nervous finish when Adam Hesketh powered through from close range and Fairhurst struck his second goal but Hunslet held out for the win.

Dave Parkinson and Steve Beech chat every week about the amateur scene on the 13 Pro-am community podcast.

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Challenge Cup fourth round ties

  • Rochdale Mayfield v Newcastle Thunder (Sat, 1pm)
  • Keighley v North Wales (Sat, 3pm)
  • London Broncos v Doncaster (Sat, 3pm)
  • York v Sheffield (Sun, 12.30pm)
  • Hunslet ARLFC v Batley (Sun, 2pm)
  • Dewsbury v Widnes (Sun, 3pm)
  • Halifax v Barrow (Sun, 3pm)
  • Midlands v Bradford (Sun, 3pm)