Betfred Challenge Cup – Round Two Preview
February 24, 2023
The road to Wembley continues this weekend as round two of the 2023 Betfred Challenge Cup officially gets underway.
From Edinburgh to a historic first Irish victory, round one of this year’s tournament created some fascinating stories and broke new ground across a host of different regions. That will continue this Saturday when a Challenge Cup tie takes place in Cornwall for the first-time ever, with the match being shown live on BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer.
The Choughs will welcome National Conference League outfit Rochdale Mayfield to the Memorial Ground in Penryn, for what promises to be a thrilling cup tie.
Elsewhere, Ashton Bears have been rewarded for their round one exploits with a mouth-watering home fixture against Cornwall’s Betfred League One peers Dewsbury Rams.
The Bears, who defeated the British Army 28-12 in the first round of the competition, will be looking to cause an upset when the third tier promotion hopefuls arrive in town.
Dewsbury have made a bright start to the season themselves however after defeating North Wales Crusaders 38-18 in their opening League One fixture, and currently sit third in the division, meaning they will be confident of progressing.
Saddleworth Rangers’ Challenge Cup journey continues as Thatto Heath Crusaders make the journey to Greenfield. Rangers earned a place in round two after their opening round 30-20 away victory at Edinburgh Eagles.
One of the biggest stories of round one was Wests Warriors’ shock 26-12 triumph at Skirlaugh. As a result of their heroics, the Warriors set up an all-London affair against the London Chargers.
If the Warriors produce a similar performance versus the Chargers this weekend, they could well be in the hat for round three.
Away from the capital, Dublin City Exiles made history in the opening round of the competition as their 42-8 win at Hammersmith Hills Hoists meant that the Exiles became the first Irish side to win a Challenge Cup fixture.
The Exiles will be aiming for another impressive display to reach the third round, but standing in their way is a tricky away trip to Orrell St James.
On Sunday, Rochdale Hornets will open their 2023 campaign with an all-League One affair against London Skolars. The Skolars suffered a 58-16 opening day defeat at the hands of Workington last weekend and will be looking to bounce back against the Hornets.
Elsewhere, Ince Rose Bridge will travel to take on Anthony Murray’s Town, fresh from their capital gains last weekend. Ince Rose produced one of the performances of round One when they defeated local rivals Wigan St. Patricks in front of a bumper crowd, and The Sportsman television cameras.
The Sportsman’s coverage of the competition will continue on Sunday afternoon when Hull Dockers entertain Midlands Hurricanes at Hull Kingston Rovers’ Sewell Group Craven Park Stadium.
Hunslet will face Heworth in an interesting tie; Hunslet chairman Kenny Sykes has links to both sides thanks to his playing spells at both clubs, and is also the current President of Heworth.
Finally, Oldham will make their long-awaited return to competitive action as they travel to fellow League One side Doncaster. Stuart Littler’s side will be hoping to avoid another second round defeat this year, after losing at home to Lock Lane at the same stage last season.
The draw for the third round of the men’s Betfred Challenge Cup will take place at Featherstone Rovers on Monday, February, 27 – and will be streamed live on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport Online from 6.00pm.
Rovers are one of 13 Betfred Championship clubs entering the competition at this stage, and this year celebrate the anniversaries of Challenge Cup Final successes in 1973 and 1983. Joining the BBC’s Dave Woods will be veterans of those victories over Bradford Northern 50 years ago and Hull FC 10 years later – Jimmy Thompson (‘73) and Peter Smith (‘83), whose grandson played at Rovers in 2022 before joining Wakefield Trinity.