Powergen Challenge Cup Third Round

This weekend's games are the last before Superleague clubs join for the next round of this prestigious knockout competition.

At the moment we have teams from National League 1, National League 2, National League 3 and the Conference, as well as teams from France and Russia facing off to stay alive...

Batley Bulldogs v Limoux (France)

Limoux currently are in second place in the French Championship under the guidance of former French international Eric Van Brussel.

Limoux made their mark in the 2004 Powergen Challenge Cup with a 19-18 Fourth Round win over Halifax thanks to a field goal from present half back Mikael Murcia, before being beaten 80-20 by Wigan Warriors in France. Brothers Bastien and Matthieu Almarcha are strong finishers with 17-year-old winger Vincent Dupont also strong. Stand off Justin Mackay is one of several overseas players in their ranks.

Batley beat another French side, St.Gaudens, 40-14 last season before going out 25-8 at home to Leigh Centurions.

Blackpool Panthers v Toulouse (France)

This is a repeat of last year?s Third-Round draw when Toulouse won 58-18 on the Lancashire coast and that proved to be the start of a sparkling Powergen Challenge Cup run for the French club.

After beating the Panthers the Spacers went on to beat Cumbrian amateurs Wath Brow Hornets 60-12 in the fourth round and Doncaster Dragons 32-18 in Round Five. They gained a stunning 40-24 Quarter Final success against engage Super League Widnes Vikings and, although they were then beaten 56-18 by Leeds Rhinos in the Semi-Finals, they were far from disgraced. Toulouse coach Justin Morgan then took over as team boss at Hull KR.

Toulouse, now coached by last season?s loose forward Trent Robinson and captained by scrum half James Wynne, have strengthened their playing staff by the signing offour Australian players: full back Trent Clayton, stand off David Myles, loose forward Michael Howell and prop Jamie McDonald.

They also have former Wakefield centre Sylvan Houles in their side and will present a formidable hurdle for the Panthers who are still developing under new management.

Celtic Crusaders v Locomotiv Moscow (Russia)

Locomotiv Moscow have been included in the Powergen Challenge Cup for the fourth successive season. Last year they went down 70-10 at Swinton Lions where their tries were scored by centre Andrey Cherevichny and loose forward Evgeny Bouzhukov.

In 2004 Chorley Lynx halted their progress with a 54-6 defeat and in 2003 Leigh Centurions romped to a 62-0 victory over Locomotiv.

Celtic Crusaders are undertaking their first Powergen Challenge Cup campaign and have high hopes of progressing through to a potentially massive PR opportunity of a game against an engage Super League club in Round Four.

Dewsbury Rams v Bradford Dudley Hill Demons

Bradford Dudley Hill Demons, currently the top summer side outside the professional ranks after their thrilling 28-26 success in last season?s LHF Healthplan National League Three Grand Final, have exciting young scrum half Tony Williams attracting a great deal of attention.

Williams was one of three Demons to be accorded a place in the ?2005 All Stars? alongside top hooker Gareth Walker and stalwart Richard Bingley. The Hill are one of the proudest names in amateur Rugby League; they were founder members of the National Conference League and have previously beaten professional clubs York and Keighley in the Challenge Cup. They also made the Quarter Final qualifiers of last season?s Northern Rail League Cup, before going down at Hull KR.

Doncaster Lakers v Shaw Cross Sharks

Shaw Cross Sharks are coached by former BARLA International Coach, Mick Turner, and are chasing a top-six spot in the Premier Division of the National Conference League after winning promotion last season.

The Sharks are a good, young side with promising players Richard Squires at full-back, centre Jamie Spence and loose forward Dominic Byrne and they ended the aspirations of Bramley Buffaloes with a Second Round victory. They lost 46-0 to professional club Swinton Lions in 2003, but they are delighted to take on a club with whom professional neighbours Dewsbury Rams have a traditional strong rivalry.

East Hull v Hunslet Hawks

East Hull are leading championship contenders in the National Conference League Premier Division, and they are coached by Hull FC?s newly-acquired forward Lee Radford, who was a winner with Bradford Bulls in the 2003 Powergen Challenge Cup Final and his new team mate, Paul Cooke, who picked up the Cup so memorably with Hull at Cardiff last season.

East Hull?s leading players include brothers Paul and Lee Roberts, former Hull prop Mike Docherty and one-time Hull Academy player, Jordan Precious who is outstanding in a lively three quarter line. They also boast former BARLA ?Player-of- the-Year? Terry Lynn, one of the best ever amateur half backs who joined them from West Hull.

East Hull enjoyed an incredible Powergen Challenge Cup run in 2004. They beat Swinton Lions at Park Lane 26-14 before narrowly losing to then National League leaders Whitehaven, 14-4 in Round Four. Last year they lost 42-22 at Barrow Raiders and will certainly be up for another Cup upset if the Hawks are not on their guard.

Hull KR v York Acorn

Former York half back Darren Callaghan and Yorkshire County open-age coach, Alfie Hill are the coaches in charge of a York Acorn side enjoying their best ever season in the National Conference League as they push for promotion from Division One.

Cousins Matt and Michael Embleton are impressive young players with brothers Gary and Adam Endersby also to the fore. Jon Waldron the prolific winger is one to watch having scored 41 tries last season. Jon is the current BARLA ?Player-of-the-Year?, and is once again on target to score more than one try per game.

Hunslet Warriors v Widnes Vikings

Hunslet Warriors, coached by Tony Caunce, have former Dewsbury prop Carl Saville and ex-Doncaster, Hunslet and Leeds player Martin Rouse in their side, along with Micky Lyons, who played for Bradford and Wigan?s Under 21 teams.

Half back Scott Walker is a prolific goal kicker for the Warriors with hooker Jim Baker always a threat to their opposition. Hunslet were the amateur Yorkshire Cup winners in 1999, are currently holding their own in the National Conference League Division one and are unbeaten at home this season. The Warriors lost 44-4 at Leigh in 1998 but they will be determined to give LHF League One promotion chasers Widnes a run for their money.

Kells v Halifax

Kells are coached by Whitehaven assistant coach and former player, Peter Smith, and they are known as the ?Cumberland Cup Kings? because of the significant amount of silverware they win each year. The Whitehaven-based team are a cracking side and currently lying in second place in the Cumberland League.

Former Workington man Steve McGrady plays in the Kells back division while ex-Whitehaven forward Graham Morton plays in their massive pack. BARLA Under 21?s internationals: Dave Agnew, Scott Lofthouse, Scott Farmer and Craig Brown are in an impressive line up that have seen off Drighlington, Wigan St.Judes and Barrow Island to reach this stage of the competition.

In 1986-87, they drew 4-4 with Fulham, precursors of current engage Super League club Harlequins RL, and then lost the replay 22-14 in the capital.

Leigh Centurions v Strela Kazan Arrows (Russia)

Two seasons ago Leigh hammered Locomotiv Moscow 62-0 and will expect to see off Strela Kazan in a similar fashion. The Russian side lost 62-14 at Keighley last season in their first appearance in the Powergen Challenge Cup when winger Maxim Keller raced in for two tries and hooker Alexander Napalkov added a third. Stand off Rinat Chamsoutdinov kicked the goal.

Leigh Miners Rangers v Rochdale Hornets

This is the draw that Rochdale Hornets loose forward Tommy Goulden didn?t want because it paired his new professional side against the club he led to the amateur National Conference League Grand Final and Championship victory last season.

The Miners have former stand-off, Winston Sarsfield as the man in charge and he is doing an excellent job keeping them in second place in the National Conference League Premier Division and on course to retain their championship crown.

Experience in what is a young Miners side comes from BARLA internationals Dave Patterson and Simon Warhurst together with former Warrington player Alan Redicliffe - a prolific try scorer at this level - and much travelled ex Barrow, Wigan and Leigh half back, Anthony Murray.

In the centre for Miners is John Woods, son of the Leigh legend of the same name who, incidentally, also holds the Hornets scoring record.

Miners were the toast of the amateur game when they beat then professional club Bramley 18-12 in 1998, only to then lose to Hull KR. They lost 36-14 at Chorley Lynx in 2003 and gave Mark Aston?s Sheffield Eagles a scare in 2004 before going down 14-12.

One-time Wigan international forward Denis Betts, the Lance Todd Trophy winner in 1991, is a former Leigh Rangers old boy while 1997 Lance Todd Trophy winner Tommy Martyn of St Helens is an ex-Miners youth team player.

London Skolars v Gateshead Thunder

This is an all-LHF League Two clash with the Skolars no doubt eager to see off the challenge of their fellow pioneers.

The Skolars were beaten 58-14 at home by French club Pia last year while Gateshead went down 56-6 to St Esteve-based UTC. This season the Skolars have won two of their Northern Rail Cup games but Gateshead are still seeking their first win.

The Skolars are fired by half backs Frank Reid and Nathan Meischke, with Matt Pittman and Gareth Honor strong in the pack. Second row Dave Ellis has been running in the tries.

Gateshead?s Neil Thorman and Tabua Cakacaka are key players as the Tynesiders look for wins with prop Rob Line leading the pack.

Last season, the Storm won both League clashes; they won 52-18 in Gateshead and 54-24 in London. It looks set to be an interesting tie.

Oldham v Saddleworth Rangers

Saddleworth Rangers are coached by former Oldham half back and coach, Paddy Kirwan, and this is very definitely the tie that the National Conference League second division outfit wanted because it sees the local amateur club taking on their professional neighbours.

Eight years ago Paddy made a name for himself as the last player to score a winning try against the then all-conquering Challenge Cup winning Wigan side in February 1987. He was playing for Oldham who won 10-8 and he could virtually dine out for free on that achievement until that famous Wigan cup run ended eight years later.

Paddy?s young sons, Neil and Adam, feature prominently for Oldham area amateur side Rangers as do the veteran former BARLA internationals, Emerson Jackman, Gareth Davies and Jimmy Rogers.

Saddleworth defeated Sharslton Rovers, Cup giant killers of a couple of seasons ago 28-22 after extra time in the preliminary round, then saw off Conference Premier Division side Hull Dockers 33-32 and first division Walney Central 28-0.

Beaten 66-16 at Keighley in 1998 and 22-6 at Whitehaven in 1999, Rangers will have their work cut out to tame Oldham.

Ovenden v York City Knights

Last year was Ovenden?s first in the National Conference League after a four-year absence and already coach Steven Taylor has them pushing for promotion to Division One with stand off Danny Jones and his half back partner Chris Hartley in top form.

Jones has been absolutely outstanding and, along with brother Gareth, has proved to be a prolific point scorer.

Ovenden beat Egremont Rangers 32-14 in the Preliminary Round, before defeating two North West Counties League clubs, Bank Quay Bulls of Warrington and Blackbrook from St Helens.

In 1998 the Halifax club was paired with Huddersfield neighbours Moldgreen in the Third Round and won 20-10, but they were subsequently beaten by Salford City Reds 74-0.

Skirlaugh v Featherstone Rovers

Richard Gotts and Colin Brown have taken over the coaching reins at Hull amateur club Skirlaugh while former Bradford Bulls loose forward Steve McNamara also has a role in their set-up too. Steve was on the losing team for Bradford Bulls in the 1996 and 1997 Wembley Finals and in the 1999 Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Skirlaugh, one of Hull?s leading amateur clubs, are a talented side that includes former Hull KR men, Andy Dearlove and brothers Gary and Kevin Smith, plus a whole host of BARLA internationals including second rows Phil Crane, Simon Kilby and winger Phil Thacker. They will be out to give the Rovers a tough time. One of their players Rob Wilson played for Rovers in the Challenge Plate Final in 1997.

Skirlaugh were drawn at Workington in 1999 and 2000 losing 12-2 last time out, but in 2002 they took Swinton to extra time before being beaten 32-24. In 2003 they were beaten 20-8 by York City Knights.

Swinton Lions v Sheffield Eagles

Swinton Lions and Sheffield Eagles will far be happier playing LHF League Two opposition than an amateur club if their Cup results in recent seasons are anything to go by and this Powergen Challenge Cup Third Round clash promises to be a cracker.

The Lions have recruited well through the close season and, with Ian Watson and Martin Moana hitting a perfect partnership in midfield and a powerful pack, they look like roaring all the way into LHF League One.

But Sheffield are not a side to be taken lightly and they possess a pack of forwards that includes useful performers like Sean Dickinson, Paul Pickering and Simon Morton. They are currently playing well and likely to present problems for any team they come up against.

For the record Swinton lost 26-14 to East Hull in 2004 and Sheffield Eagles went down 16-14 to Dewsbury amateurs Thornhill Trojans in 2000.

Thornhill Trojans v Workington Town

Thornhill Trojans from Dewsbury are the current National Conference League leaders and that could mean problems for Workington Town in this Powergen Challenge Cup meeting.

Town have crashed to Cumbrian amateur opposition Egremont Rangers and Wath Brow Hornets in the Challenge Cup in recent years and will be taking on a Trojans side that is well coached by former Hunslet Hawk Jason Firth. The Trojans certainly represent a potential ?banana skin? game for re-emerging Workington.

Firth is also a dynamic leader on the field and has able assistants in experienced former Dewsbury Rams hooker Scott Dyson and second-row forward Matty Roberts. They are also able to call upon the current BARLA international captain and loose forward Anthony Broadhead and a host of other skilled players.

Thornhill beat professionals Sheffield Eagles 16-14 in 2000 and reached the Fourth Round that year when they were defeated at York. They lost 38-6 to Hunslet Hawks 2001, 33-10 at Keighley in 2003 and 48-10 to Featherstone Rovers last year.

West Bowling v Keighley Cougars

Bradford amateur club West Bowling are battling for promotion back to the top flight after relegation from the National Conference League Premier Division last season.

Their home ground is next door to Odsal, the home of Bradford Bulls and their player coach is former BARLA international captain, Nigel Halmshaw.

Beaten 34-12 by Batley Bulldogs in 2003, West Bowling must be delighted with this local derby against LHF League Two neighbours Cougars in a tie that will be played at Odsal Stadium.

Whitehaven v Pia (France)

Pia have long lived in the shadow of their more illustrious neighbours Catalan XIII but they have never been afraid to spend money in recruiting players in a bid to upstage their rivals. Former French international Luc Mendez is their coach, and they have former NRL front rower Dean Bosnich leading a rugged pack.

Full back Craig West and centre Aaron Smith (formerly Carcassonne and Catalan) are two overseas players that give Pia a strong strike force while French international half back Maxime Greseque has played for Featherstone Rovers which gives him an insight into British conditions.

Last year Pia beat London Skolars 58-14 and then crushed Keighley Cougars 53-26 before the Fifth Round draw sent them to Leeds Rhinos where they lost 70-0. In 2004 they beat Barrow and then lost to Huddersfield Giants 50-16

Widnes St.Maries v Barrow Raiders

Widnes St.Maries coach, Barrie Quinn, had a tough act to follow after the departure of favourite son, Bobbie Goulding to Rochdale Hornets 18 months ago. But he has succeeded and the Widnes amateur club are currently lying second in the National Conference League Second Division.

Hooker Anthony Hollins and 20-year-old loose forward Adam Flanagan are real livewires for St Maries while Tongan forward Sione Polutela is a real handful for the Merseysiders as they look to upset a vulnerable looking Barrow side.

St.Maries won 22-18 at Millom in the Preliminary Round and then saw off St.Albans Centurions and East Leeds to reach this stage. Saints? chairman Will Tileke is also a Tongan and the late Alan Prescott, a former winner of the Lance Todd Trophy at Wembley in 1956, was a former St.Maries Old boy.