East Leeds will be hoping to repeat last season’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup exploits by getting through to the third round of Rugby League’s oldest and most prestigious competition when they play ‘local’ rivals Leeds Metropolitan University on Saturday (2.00pm).
The second round tie marks East Leeds’s debut at their new home, Richmond Hill on Easy Road in Leeds and captain Tom Sheldrake believes the fixture will be extra special in every way.
“It will be the opening day for our new ground so it does carry a bit more meaning with us playing a local side in Leeds Met,” said Sheldrake.
“We’re ready to go. Pre-season has gone well. We have secured a new gym so we’ve all been there getting our fitness up and we’re probably the fittest we’ve ever been”.
East Leeds won promotion from the National Conference Division One last season, and Sheldrake is looking to lay the foundations for the season ahead with a good performance on Saturday.
Having beaten Underbank Rangers 34-30 in the first round to set up the tie with Leeds Met, the side are looking to maintain that momentum.
“We are a Premier Division side now, and having come through the last round unscathed in terms of injuries we’re feeling confident,” he said.
“We were a bit rusty in some parts. The weather was atrocious but getting through was the main thing, so we can hopefully build on our performance now that we’re getting games under our belt.
“We know it’s going to be tough. I know their coach Paul Fletcher well and they’ve got a well-drilled side, but no game is easy.”
East Leeds made the third round last season where they were defeated 50-4 by Kingstone Press Championship club Leigh Centurions, and Sheldrake hopes that experience will serve them well should they overcome Leeds Met.
“Now that we’re close to playing the semi-professional sides we’ll both be putting everything into it. We got through to the third round last year so we have an idea of what to expect, but anything can happen in Cup Rugby League,” he said.
The Tetley’s Challenge Cup second round tie will take place at Richmond Hill, Easy Road, Leeds, LS9 8QS on Saturday February 22 at 2.00pm. Admission is just £2 for adults and £1 for concessions.
By Liam Williams