Rollercoaster ride to Wembley

Upfront – the League Express opinion – Mon 7th June 2021

Welcome aboard the Castleford rollercoaster!

What a difference a week makes, if you’re a Tigers or a Warrington fan.

While the Wolves thumped Salford 62-18 in round eight of Super League, Cas crashed 60-6 against Leeds, leading some to question Daryl Powell’s powers of leadership ahead of the sides’ clash in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup.

The Tigers, as we know, won 35-20 to book a first trip to Wembley since 2014, Powell’s first full season at the helm.

Now he could mark his last – ahead of his move to Warrington – by guiding Cas to their first Challenge Cup final triumph since 1986.

“We showed what we are about, we showed we still care,” said Powell.

“Some people doubted that but I’d like to say to the fans I’ve been concentrating throughout on this job.

“A lot of people have been jumping up and down and I can’t understand that.

“I’ve been committed to this club for eight years and that hasn’t changed. Some people need to take a look at themselves and give their heads a wobble.”

The Tigers will take on St Helens at Wembley on Saturday, July 17 after Kristian Woolf’s side beat Hull 33-18.

And that set up the chance of an historic double after Saints won the Women’s Challenge Cup by defeating York 34-6 in the first part of Saturday’s triple-header at Leigh.

Live coverage of all three matches on the BBC added to the occasion, and perhaps in future years, we may see three matches on one day at Wembley – both Challenge Cup showpieces plus the 1895 Cup final.

Of course it’s a big week Down Under, as Queensland start their State of Origin defence after last year’s 2-1 series win.

Much has been made about the move of match one to Queensland Country Bank Stadium because of Covid concerns in Melbourne favouring the Maroons.

But while Paul Green’s side may have home ground advantage, Blues legend Ryan Girdler says he thinks the wide open spaces of the surface at Townsville will play into New South Wales chief Brad Fittler’s gameplan.

So it’s not just Bradford and York debating the width of a pitch!

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