Semi-final ties offer repeat of former Wembley meetings

SUPER League champions Leeds Rhinos will play holders Wigan Warriors in the Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-finals.

The tie is a repeat of last year’s Wembley final which Wigan – who defeated St Helens in Saturday’s last-eight meeting – edged 28-18.

Leeds easily progressed after defeating Leigh Centurions 60-12 on Friday evening while the other semi-final will see West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Giants tackle Warrington Wolves. The draw was made before Huddersfield even kicked off their quarter-final against London Broncos yesterday evening.

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Warrington had narrowly overcome Catalan Dragons 32-22 in Perpignan during the afternoon in front of the BBC cameras with the ties being drawn directly afterwards.

Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown insisted he did not know who their opponents would be until towards the end of their 50-14 success over the Super League strugglers.

“About five minutes before full-time someone said ‘You’ve got Warrington’,” said the Australian, whose side are second, only behind leaders Wigan on points difference with Warrington just a point behind in third.

“We had to think about London first so it didn’t bother me (not knowing).

“And it’s exciting now isn’t it? Whoever we got going in to the draw after today was going to be a top four or five team – Wigan, Warrington, Leeds.

“That’s how it is; they’re all very good teams.”

Huddersfield, who have not won the Challenge Cup since 1953, were defeated by Warrington at Wembley in Brown’s first season in charge three years ago and also by St Helens in 2006.

But, ahead of the semi-finals on July 14-15, he maintained: “That won’t have a bearing and all this stuff about revenge is garbage.

“We just need to focus on what’s ahead of us and you can’t do that if you’re thinking about revenge.

“We’re a much different team now as are Warrington.

“The thing is it (semi-final) is still nine weeks away so you don’t know how different the sides are going to be playing, who’s going to be fit, who’s going to be in form, so we’ve just got to revert back now and look to do well in the League. If both sides are well though, we should be in for a terrific game. The same goes for Leeds and Wigan.”

Brown admitted: “It would mean a lot to a lot of people here if we could go all the way.

“The chairman (Ken Davy) and his wife who saved the club and contributed a lot of finance to get it here, but also players like Eorl Crabtree – who not long ago was getting beat with Huddersfield by 60 or 70 points – and of course the fans too.”

The RFL will decide later this week which neutral venues will be used for the semi-finals, and their TV scheduling.