The majority of teams took a break this weekend to make way for this historic competition’s semi-finals. The games were between Hull FC v St.Helens and Castleford v Warrington with a place in the final at Wembley awaits the winners.
Hull FC 18 – 33 St.Helens
The opening game of the men’s doubleheader was a hotly contested game between the two super league heavyweights, the match was without its controversial moments.
Saint Helens scored the first try of the match at a sunny Leigh Sports village through an acrobatic finish from Welsh winger Regan Grace after quick-thinking through veteran hooker James Roby and great hands from Theo Fages.
The game’s controversial moment came when in form centre Josh Griffin took a hard carry in his 10-meter area but as he evaded the defense he ruptured his Achilles tendon. As he fell to clutch his ankle he dropped the ball which was pounced upon by French Half Theo Fages who scooped up the ball to score.
Saints were the first team to score in the second half through impressive young utility back Jack Welsby who dragged the opposing center Carlos Tuimavave over the try line with him.
Hull FC got themselves back into the game 3 minutes later after a great carry from front-rower Chris Satae put his side on the front foot allowed them to get that ball out wide where the winger Mahe Fonua crashed over.
The Airlie Birds were in again with the ever-reliable hooker Danny Houghton diving over from short range after a clever offload from Tuimavave.
Hull scored yet again to bring the score back to 21-18, a great tip on pass from Jake Connor allowed young centre Cameron Scott to power his way over the try line.
With Hull attacking their try line looking to take the lead, they forced one pass too many, allowing winger Regan Grace to intercept and race away for a 90m try, grabbing his second try, and there aren’t many wingers in the world who could catch him.
Saints sealed the victory through Lachlan Coote after Kevin Naiqama tipped a high kickback.
Castleford Tigers 35 – 20 Warrington Wolves
These two sides could have been further apart on the self-confidence spectrum in recent weeks, with the Wolves playing great rugby mainly due to Gareth Widdop returning to the form he showed in his St.George days. Their semi-final counterparts were pumped at home 60-6 the previous week at the hands of bitter rivals Leeds Rhinos.
Castleford opened the scoring on 15 minutes through Gareth O’Brien, the versatile playmaker ducked under poor defense under the posts to score.
Tigers added to their lead with the winger scoring the first of his three tries after good hands from Niall Evalds and evergreen centre Micheal Shenton. Turner scored his second minutes later after running onto a great cut-out ball by Jake Trueman.
Warrington knew exactly what was needed at the start of the second half trailing 19-0 and they delivered just that through the Great Britain international Ben Currie after 43 minutes.
Following on the day’s theme of quickfire tries Wire scored again minutes later with Jake Mamo breaking the line from 40 yards out, rounding the full-back to get his side back in the game.
However, Castleford regained their advantage just minutes later with rangy back-rower Jesse Sene-Lefao going through a massive hole to score an easy try.
Fresh off signing a new four-year contract Toby King broke weak defense from 20 yards out and went the distance to bring the lead down, Kings form of late is sure to force his way into the England world cup side.
Even with a man in the bin Castleford managed to hit back with Turner getting his hat trick with the utility back out powering Warrington’s Blake Austin. They sealed the victory with 18 minutes to go after hooker Paul McShane burrowed over the try line.
Warrington scored a consolation try through winger Josh Charnley but it wouldn’t be enough to stop Castleford from making it to the Challenge Cup final with the Tigers feeling like they owe long-serving coach Daryl Powell some silverware before he leaves at the end of the year.