Up for the Cup: Second Round

The second round of the Powergen Challenge Cup took place this Saturday, after news that Powergen would be discontinuing their sponsorship of the famous competition. But, as the Challenge Cup continues to thrill sports fans and returns to its home at Wembley, a new sponsor should not be hard to find.

Not that that bothered the twenty four amateur sides competing for a third round place today. Their thoughts were firmly on taking another step on the road to the final and, more immediately, joining the professional sides in the hat for the third round draw.

One of those ambitious sides was The Army, who faced a tough test against West Bowling. For BARLA International Lee Innes, this tie carried the most interest, as he plays for both teams. On this occasion, Innes represented The Army but tasted defeat as the forces side lost out 20-14 to their Bradford based opponents.

Another big tie was that between East Hull and Wigan St Patricks. Both sides are tough competitors from the BARLA Conference Premier League. The East Yorkshire side are coached by former cup winners in the shape of Hull's Lee Radford and Paul Cooke, while St Pats are coached by Salford's Malcolm Alker. It was the Hull pair who guided their side to victory, claiming a narrow 10-8 win over Alker's Wigan side. 

Two National League Three sides clashed in this year's second round, with NL3 champions Bradford Dudley Hill travelling to Wilderspool Stadium to face Warrington Wizards. The two teams were pretty evenly matched, but Dudley Hill were able to edge out the Wizards 22-20.

Barrow Island took on Kells in what was a gripping all-Cumbrian clash. The Islanders top the NW Counties league and hold the Cumbria Cup while Kells lie second in the Cumberland league. But Kells were able to cause a cup upset by defeating the Barrow side 28-18.

East Leeds were able to defeat Milford Marlins in a Leeds derby in round two, but faced a sterner challenge in the form of the impressive Widnes St Maries. The Maries had eased their way past a mainly second string St Albans side in the last round and followed suit with a 46-22 win over the Leeds side.

Hunslet Warriors were confident of taking another Conference Premier League scalp when welcoming Siddal. The Halifax side's league form had not been the best of late, and the Warriors were able to secure a 30-18 victory.

There were two games in Leigh, the first seeing Leigh East take on Thornhill Trojans in what was a reverse of last week's league clash, the Trojans winning 32-14. The other was an all Conference First Division tie, as league leaders Leigh Miners Rangers hosted fourth placed Oulton Raiders. Rangers made their form count with a 38-26 victory.

Blackbrook hoped to continue their Challenge Cup run after a hard-won win at Gloucestershire in the last round when they faced Halifax side Ovenden. Ovenden proved a sterner test for the St Helens outfit, winning 38-24.

Skirlaugh welcomed Wath Brow Hornets, a side that has caused several third round upsets over the years, to East Yorkshire. However, the Cumbrians won't be causing any upsets this season, losing 25-18 to their Hull based opponents.

Walney Central and Saddleworth are two sides that have disappointed so far this season, and it was Saddleworth who alleviated that disappointment slightly, winning 28-0, adding further misery for Central.

In the final tie, Seaton Rangers travelled to York Acorn confident of claiming success, However, Acorn secured a notable upset with a more than convincing 35-16 victory to send them into the next round.

The sides that have made it into the Powergen Challenge Cup third round will be dreaming of a tie with professional opponents. The idea of facing the likes of Widnes, Leigh, Hull KR or Whitehaven is an appealing one, and many will harbour hopes of upsetting the professionals.

The draw will take place tomorrow at 5:30 with sides from National Leagues One and Two, as well as French and Russian sides. It's been great so far and it will only get better.

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