CUP FINAL: The background to the meeting

Want the inside track and the key stats that matter ahead of this weekend’s showdown? Check these out:

HULL KINGSTON ROVERS and LEEDS RHINOS meet for the first time in a Challenge Cup Final on Saturday. The game will be only the third final meeting between the clubs in all competitions – with Leeds previously winning two Yorkshire Cups against Hull KR (1975-76, 1980-81).

Saturday’s game will be the first time there has been back-to-back Yorkshire finals in Wembley history. The only other instances of successive all-White Rose affairs was in 1908/1909/1910 and 1941/1942/1943 – but none of those deciders were contested at Wembley. (During the Wembley era, there have been three instances of consecutive all-Lancashire finals: 1950/1951, 1974/1975 and 1989/1990/1991).

Picture by Alex Whitehead/
Picture by Alex Whitehead/

Hull KR are appearing in their seventh Challenge Cup Final, having previously won just once at the showpiece event – 10-5 against Hull FC in 1980. The Robins’ last Wembley appearance was in a 15-14 defeat to Castleford in 1986. Hull KR defeated Leeds in the semi-finals of that year’s competition – 17-0 in a replay following an initial 24-24 draw.

Leeds are appearing in their 25th Challenge Cup Final (twelve wins) – only Wigan (30) have more Final appearances than the Rhinos, whilst the Warriors (19) are the only club with more wins at the showpiece event. (St Helens share the Rhinos’ record of twelve victories).

A defeat for the Rhinos would set a new record of 13 Challenge Cup Final reverses – Leeds share the unwanted total of twelve with Hull FC.

The Rhinos have the overwhelming advantage when it comes to Challenge Cup Final experience – with a combined total of 49 appearances in the showpiece event amongst their active squad. By contrast, Hull KR have a combined total of just five appearances in their ranks.

The Robins also have 25 players yet to appear in a Challenge Cup Final, compared to ten Rhinos players awaiting their debut at the event.

KEVIN SINFIELD is on the verge of setting a new Challenge Cup record for most captaincies in a Final on Saturday. His seventh skippering of the Rhinos would take him clear of Eric Ashton’s total of six for Wigan (1958, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966). Ashton will retain the Wembley record however – as the first two of Sinfield’s appearances as captain were in Cardiff. Sinfield is an ever present for Leeds in Challenge Cup ties since 2005’s 25-24 Final defeat to Hull FC at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. He has appeared in 37 consecutive games in the competition since then. The last Challenge Cup match he missed was the 2005 semi-final win against Toulouse at Huddersfield, when a dislocated thumb ruled him out. The last Challenge Cup game Sinfield missed through non-selection was the 2000 Final defeat against Bradford at Murrayfield, when he was left out by coach Dean Lance – despite playing in every round in the run to the decider. In total, Sinfield has played in 56 of 58 Challenge Cup games for Leeds since the turn of the century.

BRETT DELANEY has the opportunity to extend his own record of most appearances in a Challenge Cup Final by an Australian player on Saturday. He set the record by starting at second row in the Rhinos’ 23-10 win against Castleford last season – and previously featured in defeats in 2012 (Warrington), 2011 (Wigan) and 2010 (Warrington).

RYAN HALL has played in 29 consecutive Challenge Cup ties for Leeds. Hall last missed a Rhinos game in the competition in 2008 – a Round Four win against Celtic Crusaders at Headingley.

ZAK HARDAKER has played in 15 consecutive Challenge Cup ties for Leeds. Hardaker is ever present in the competition for the Rhinos since the start of the 2012 season.

JOEL MOON has played in every Challenge Cup round whilst in the British game. His run of consecutive appearances in the competition includes two games for Salford in 2012 and then ten for the Rhinos since 2013.

Leeds coach BRIAN McDERMOTT is taking charge of his fourth Challenge Cup Final, having previously coached the Rhinos at Wembley in their 2014 victory against Castleford, 2012 defeat to Warrington and 2011 loss against Wigan. McDermott also played for Bradford Bulls in four Challenge Cup Finals, on the winning side in 2000 (against Leeds at Murrayfield) and tasting defeat in 1996, 1997 (both against St Helens at Wembley) and 2001 (against St Helens at Twickenham).

Picture by Alex Whitehead/
Picture by Alex Whitehead/

DANNY McGUIRE needs one appearance to reach 400 for his career. McGuire has played 372 games for Leeds since 2001, to go with representative appearances for Great Britain (12 Tests, 2004 & 2006-2007), England (7 games, 2008-2009), England ‘A’ (6 games, 2002-2003) and England under-21s (2 games, 2001).

ZAK HARDAKER needs two tries to reach a career century of touchdowns. Hardaker has scored 65 tries for Leeds since 2011, to go with representative scores for England (3, 2012-2013) and England Knights (2, 2012). He also scored 28 tries for previous club Featherstone (2010-2011).

KALLUM WATKINS needs one try to reach a career century of touchdowns. Watkins has scored 91 tries for Leeds since 2008, to go with 8 scores for England since 2012.

Only three Hull Kingston Rovers players have previous Challenge Cup Final experience – all for other clubs. GRAEME HORNE played in Hull FC’s 2008 defeat to St Helens, while TYRONE McCARTHY and SHAUN LUNT have played against each other twice before in Finals. McCarthy was on the winning side for Warrington on both occasions – against Lunt’s Huddersfield in 2009, and Leeds in 2012. If Lunt features at Wembley on Saturday, it will be the second time he will play in a Challenge Cup Final as a loan player – having being a substitute for the Rhinos whilst on loan from the Giants in 2012.

Hull KR coach CHRIS CHESTER takes charge of his first Challenge Cup Final on Saturday – but did play as a substitute in Hull FC’s 25-24 victory against Leeds at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2005.

KRIS WELHAM needs one try to reach 100 for Hull KR. Welham has touched down 99 times in 186 games for the Robins since 2006.