Challenge Cup semi-final weekend is almost upon us, and excitement continues to rise as we get closer to discovering who will be the first winner of major silverware in 2016.
The four clubs involved, Hull FC, Wigan, Warrington and Wakefield, know they are just one game away from the Wembley showpiece. But how have they dealt with that experience in the past?
TotalRL has a look back at all four club’s last effort in a Challenge Cup semi-final.
Last semi-final: 2013 – Hull FC 16-12 Warrington Wolves
It’s well documented that Hull FC have never won at Wembley, however, their recent history in Challenge Cup semi-finals is impressive.
The Airlie Birds’ recent Challenge Cup history is nothing to write home about, however, on the previous three occasions they have reached the last four, they have gone on to make the final, with their last semi-final defeat coming in 2000 against Leeds Rhinos.
In 2005 they thrashed St Helens 34-8, before going on to win the trophy, and in 2008 they defeated Wakefield 32-24 to advance to the final, where they lost 28-16 to the Saints.
Their most recent final appearance came in 2013, after they defeated Warrington in a pulsating semi-final 16-12 thanks to tries through Tom Lineham, Richard Whiting and Aaron Heremaia. However, they once again disappointed at Wembley, losing in the final 16-0.
Last semi-final: 2013 – Wigan Warriors 70-0 London Broncos
The Challenge Cup’s most decorated club are also in their first semi-final since they won the competition in 2013.
In the last four, they absolutely destroyed the terrible London Broncos, in a match that left fans of the game bitterly disappointed and debating the Challenge Cup and Rugby League in the capital. Thankfully, Hull FC’s victory over Warrington a day later helped bring pride back to the competition, but Wigan went on to win 16-0, with Matty Smith getting the Lance Todd trophy.
The 19-time winners have had to wait two years for their next appearance in the last four, having suffered shock defeats to 2014 and 2015 finalists Castleford and Hull KR in the earlier rounds.
Last semi-final: 2015 – Warrington Wolves 18-26 Hull KR
“It’s always your year,” is a song so often aimed at Warrington as they remain in search of their first Grand Final win.
They have, of course, got a fantastic recent history in the Challenge Cup, having won the competition for three of the last seven years.
However, they were humbled in last year’s semi-final, as a disappointing season took a turn for the worse as they were knocked out by outsiders Hull KR at the final hurdle.
The Wolves will be desperately keen to avoid a repeat when they take on underdogs Wakefield this weekend.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Last semi-final: 2008 – Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 24-32 Hull FC
Wakefield have waited eight years for another opportunity to make the final.
Almost 15,000 people were in attendance to see the Wildcats narrowly miss out on a trip to the final. Despite tries through Matt Petersen, Damien Blanch (2), Tevita Leo-Latu and Ryan Atkins, they lost 32-24 to Hull FC.
Their team looks very different now, and with nothing to lose, anything could happen.