THE mood at each of the five amateur clubs involved in tonight’s draw for the fourth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup is sky-high following victories over Kingstone Press League 1 opposition at the weekend.
Featherstone Lions traduced South Wales Scorpions 37-20 at the Millpond, Kells saw off visitors Hemel Stags 12-6 and Lock Lane won at Oxford 37-22.
Pilkington Recs, meanwhile, sent London Skolars back to the capital reflecting on a 13-0 reverse, while Newcastle Thunder returned to the north east stung by a 30-4 defeat at Siddal.
Lions Head Coach Jamie Rooney, in steering Featherstone to the fourth round for a second successive year, saw off one of his former clubs and official Dick Taylor said: “Following on from last season’s progression to the fourth round the club is buzzing.
“The brilliant performances by other NCL teams mean that there is a possibility we could be drawn against one – and we would have to fancy our chances if we had a home draw.”
Pilkington Recs have a proud history in the Challenge Cup, having pushed the likes of Wigan and Castleford hard four decades or so ago. Secretary Billy Dillon enthused: “The reaction here is fantastic. The whole club is buzzing. This team, under Kurt Haggerty’s guidance, has achieved what the great Pilks side of the late 70s and 80s didn’t achieve, although it is a completely different game these days.
“Our players are totally committed to the club and that is borne out by the fact that we have made massive strides over the last five years since our historical home at City Road was burned down and the land went to housing development.
“Our return to the National Conference League has been a major turning point, winning promotion over three consecutive years and getting into the Premier Division for 2016.
“The guts and determination shown by the players against London Skolars has given us the confidence to say we believe that we will match the best in the NCL’s top flight this season.”
He continued: “The players would love to get Bradford Bulls in the next round as our coach, Haggy, plays for them. But, realistically, we would like to get any of the other amateur sides still left in the competition. That would give us a chance to make more history by reaching round five; with Super League teams entering the cup at that stage, it would be a massive achievement for the club. But we will be happy to play whoever is put in front of us.”
Lock Lane Secretary Dean Elliott echoed Dillon’s thoughts. He said: “It would be great to draw another NCL team while, on the other hand, a money-making tie with a professional side would also be good for us.
“Maybe the ideal draw would be a `derby’ with Featherstone Lions, followed – if we were to win that – by a match against a Super League outfit.
“We’re delighted to still be in the mix and maintaining our strong record in the Challenge Cup; we were always quietly confident of winning at Oxford.”
The fourth round draw will be made this evening (Tuesday 1 March) at around 7.00pm and can be picked up through the Ladbrokes website.