Hull KR coach Chris Chester is hoping his Challenge Cup heroes can help gatecrash Super League’s top eight.
The Robins’ 32-26 win over Catalans Dragons on Thursday night at the KC Lightstream Stadium earned a first semi-final spot in nine years.
The last time Hull KR were in the last four, they were thrashed 50-0 by St Helens in 2006.
But Chester – a 2005 Challenge Cup winner with Hull FC – and his team are in tomorrow’s semi-final draw after holding off a Dragons fightback.
Now the Robins face a league double-header this week, at home to Salford Red Devils on Tuesday before travelling to Huddersfield Giants next Sunday.
Victory over Salford would put Hull KR in the top eight, leapfrogging cross-city rivals Hull FC and joint-level with seventh-placed Warrington Wolves, even if it is only for 24 hours.
The Black and Whites can retake eighth spot when they play the following day at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. The two Hull clubs have identical Super League records, played 18, won eight, lost 10.
“We now need to back this up against Salford on Tuesday and Huddersfield next weekend because the focus now is back on Super League,” said Chester.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the semi-final and we’ll enjoy this.
“It was a massive team effort from everybody tonight, from the chairman down, and I’m really proud.
“It was a huge game for the club and we’re in the hat for the next round, the semi-final, and that’s the main thing.”
Chester has promised to make changes for Tuesday, as he looks to rotate his squad.
Giant forward Tony Puletua will definitely miss the Salford game, as the on-loan prop cannot play against his parent club.
Dane Tilse and Shaun Lunt made welcome returns, after their respective injury lay-offs, against Catalans, to the delight of Chester.
“I thought Tilse was very good, Lunt played well, a bit rusty contact-wise. It was an easy decision for me to bring them in, they have both got plenty of experience of these big games.
“We had a lot of upset people who we left out of the squad.
“But the bigger picture is we have got a Super League campaign to focus on now and we will keep rotating the squad for the next few weeks.
“The Challenge Cup is the priority for me – it’s been a long time since we have been in a semi-final – but we just have to make sure we back this result up on Tuesday, and then Sunday. We don’t want to lose touch on those teams around us.
“We have got a few fresh bodies to come back on Tuesday and didn’t pick up any knocks (against Catalans).”
Hull KR romped into a 26-4 half-time lead against the Dragons on Thursday, thanks to tries from Ken Sio, Kieran Dixon, Albert Kelly and Graeme Horne.
The French side rallied in the second-half, but Sio’s second try of the evening was enough to settle the hosts’ nerves.
Chester reflected: “Let’s enjoy this moment, it was a great performance for the boys and a fantastic team effort from everybody.
“The game plan was to go through the middle of them and take some juice out of them early doors and then move them around a little bit. We got some joy from that and scored some good tries.
“Catalans got back into the game in the second half but credit to my boys, they really dug in and got us over the line.
“It was a good all-round performance.
“The penalty count was 9-3 in the second half and we put ourselves under a lot of pressure.
“We were very dominant in that first half, we were very good defensively and we put them under pressure. We were pretty sloppy in the second half and we’ll need to be better but the main thing is we are in that hat for the semi-final.
“We know what a good team Catalans are, they have a lot of fantastic players and they caused us a lot of problems but we got the result and that was all that mattered.”
The newly-formed Hull Kingston Rovers Heritage Committee will be hosting a series of events to celebrate the club’s history this year, starting with a film night at the KC Lightstream Stadium next month.
Presented in conjunction with the Hull KR Community Trust, the event will be held in the Legends Lounge on Wednesday, July 8 (7pm), and fans can view rare footage of the Robins from the early 1900s onwards, as well as a Q&A with the club historians.Fans can also bring memorabilia.
Tickets cost £2 on the door. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org