Cumbrian derby will be like Cup final says Thackray
Workington Town forward Jamie Thackray says this weekend’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth round game against local rivals Whitehaven at The Recreation Ground on Sunday (3.00) will be like a Cup final for both squads. Thackray has plenty of big game experience, having appeared in the competition’s showpiece final on two occasions and he believes this weekend’s tie will be up there with the most intense games he has ever played and one that will test the younger players in both squads to the limit.
“I had the privilege of playing in two Challenge Cup finals and there really isn’t anything like it,” said the former Hull FC and Leeds Rhinos prop. “I remember walking out onto the pitch and the fireworks going off and the noise from the fans was indescribable - it was like a dream.
“Winning with Hull FC in 2005 was up there as the best moments of my career. It was a very special occasion and after the whistle went it was unreal. There’s nothing better than that feeling and we all had a buzz for weeks afterwards.
“Losing to Saints in 2008 was a sad day as you always want to win as a player and none more so than when you’re in a final at Wembley – but the experience was still incredible.
“For some of our lads, who have never played at that level, the game against Whitehaven will be a like a Cup final. The knock-out element of the Cup will add an extra element to the game and it will be more intense than most derby days.
“There will be several thousand hard core Cumbrian there on the day and they can make enough noise to rival any set of fans. I’ve played in a few derbies in my time at Workington and they are very intense games.
“There are some very talented players in both sides and the intensity lifts even higher on the day – there’s some big lads in their team and we know it will be a very physical contest.”
Workington booked their place in the fourth round of the Cup after a 24-16 victory over Carcassonne and Thackray is confident they can keep their winning momentum going and book their place alongside some of competition’s elite as the games intensify in the fifth round.
“We got through a tough game against Carcassonne in the last round and it was good to do so,” he said. “The fourth round draw couldn’t really have been much better for the club.
“It’s a local derby and there’s been a bit of a buzz around the town and around training since the draw took place. We’ve some great talent in the club and everyone will be going that bit harder in training to try and get into the match day squad.
“Getting the chance to play against Super League opposition is a huge incentive for the lads in the squad. Playing against teams of that level is part of the magic of the competition – it’s a one-off game on the day and anyone can beat anyone. It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, if you play well you can win and we’ve seen some shocks in the past.
“We’re in a good run of form against Whitehaven and hopefully we’ll keep that going and keep our cup run going as well.”
Home-town Centurion ready for Warriors
Leigh Centurions hooker Sean Penkywicz is hoping he can play in big part in causing a huge Tetley’s Challenge Cup upset when Leigh travel to the DW Stadium to face local rivals Wigan Warriors on Friday night (8.00). Penkywicz was knocked out of the competition at this stage 12 months ago when his current club Leigh defeated his former side Halifax and having missed out on that occasion, he is hoping for some Cup magic this weekend.
“I’m really enjoying being at Leigh,” said Penkywicz. “I had been at Halifax for a good few years and had a brilliant time there but I had always wanted to play for my home town club and I felt that the time was right.
“I think facing Wigan was the draw that everyone wanted from the directors of the club right through to the players and the fans, there will be a great buzz around the club in the build-up to the game.
“My first thought when the balls were pulled out was ‘Oh no!’ It will be a daunting task but it is bound to be a great experience and will give the club a bit of money as well as giving the fans a great day out.”
Penkywicz enjoyed more than a fair share of success during his time with Halifax with Championship and Northern Rail Cup titles to his name, but the prospect of pulling on the Leigh jersey in a derby game in front of a large travelling support is one he is relishing.
“It’s not every day you get to play one of the world’s best teams,” he said. “It doesn’t get much bigger than this so we will make sure we savour every minute.
“They have some great players and it’s an opportunity for us to really test ourselves and put ourselves in a position to pull off a big upset.
“Featherstone had a good crack at Wigan in the Challenge Cup last year and showed that shocks can happen - we know we will be big underdogs on the day but we have nothing to lose and will give it our all.
“The Leigh fans are great and I’m sure there will be a few thousand there to cheer us on and create a fantastic atmosphere and hopefully we will have made them proud when the full-time whistle blows.”
Rovers star targeting another Challenge Cup shock
Lamont Bryan is hoping to play a big part in ending his former club’s involvement in the 2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup when his former club hosts Featherstone Rovers in a fourth round tie at The Twickenham Stoop on Saturday (3.00). Bryan joined Featherstone from the Broncos at the end of last season and the powerhouse forward, who has already made an impressive impact in his short time with the West Yorkshire club, is aiming to secure bragging rights when he returns to the capital.
“I’m really excited about the game and I can’t wait to get stuck into them,” said Bryan. “We’re all very up for it and it will be good to go up against a few of my old mates.
“There’s extra bragging rights at stake for me and that’s always gives the games a little bit extra.
“We can take a lot of confidence from the Cup run we had last season and we know we can beat every team on our day. London are definitely there for the taking – they’ve had some tough results recently and we know we can match them so it should be a great game.
“The team that turns up best on the day will be the team that wins – and I know that we will definitely turn up for it.”
Featherstone famously beat their local rivals Castleford Tigers at the fourth round stage last year and having eased past their third round opponents Thatto Heath 76-6 have set their sights on another Super League scalp.
“The Challenge Cup is an amazing competition,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest competitions in British sport and even world sport. This will be my first ever start in the competition so it’s one that’s extra special for me as well.
“We’re in pretty good form at the moment and we’ve had some good wins in the league in recent weeks.
“We’re gelling well as a squad and we’re full of confidence at the minute so it all bodes well for a good game and hopefully the result we want.”
Tickets for 2013 Tetley’s Challenge Cup final, Wembley Stadium, Saturday August 24 are now on sale.
Visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or call 0844 856 1113 for full details.
Edited by Honor James, 16 April 2013 - 11:14 AM.