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Rugby League: Wigan out to end Challenge Cup wait

For a team who have been as successful as Wigan Warriors have, it has been far too long since they last lifted the prestigious Challenge Cup.

The Warriors return to action in the competition on Friday evening against Salford Red Devils, as Wigan (9/2) look to end their wait to get their hands on this traditional piece of silverware.

Once dominators, recently also-rans

Looking back at the history of the Challenge Cup, no team has won the competition more times than Wigan.

Going back to the late 80s and into the 90s, the Cherry & Whites were unstoppable as they managed to win the cup competition eight times on the spin.

However, that domination now seems like a distant memory for the Lancashire outfit, with Wigan's last of their 19 Challenge Cup titles coming back in 2013.

Since then, Wigan have only managed to reach the final once, and even then the Warriors managed to fluff their lines on the big stage in an 18-14 defeat at the hands of Hull FC in 2017.

Wigan have been involved in five Super League Grand Finals since 2013, winning two, showing they have still been extremely competitive at the top end of the game.

But for whatever reason, the Warriors seem to have fallen out of love with a Challenge Cup competition that was once theirs to lose.

Peet can make a difference

With a new head coach at the helm in the shape of Matt Peet, he will be hoping to bring the good times back for Wigan in the Challenge Cup.

The Warriors have already made a positive start to the 2022 Super League campaign, winning five of their first six games to go level on points with frontrunners and reigning champions St Helens.

Wigan welcome Salford to the DW Stadium on Friday and the Warriors are firm favourites at 1/5 for the win, while a shock victory for the visitors is available at 7/2.

Peet will be determined to make a positive start in his first cup game at the helm of the Warriors, as they hope to end the wait to get their hands on the famous trophy.

Rhinos begin new era

Following the departure of Richard Agar as head coach, Jamie Jones-Buchanan begins life as interim boss at Leeds, as the Rhinos host West Yorkshire rivals Castleford Tigers on Saturday.

After a host of new arrivals joined over the off-season, Leeds have only managed one win in their opening six Super League games.

That brought an end to Agar's tenure, which did yield a Challenge Cup success in 2020 at Wembley Stadium - with the Rhinos 10/1 to win the trophy again this season.

Jones-Buchanan, who won seven Super League Grand Finals and one Challenge Cup during his playing days at Leeds, has stepped into the head coach role for the moment.

An inspirational figure for the Rhinos on and off the field, Jones-Buchanan will be determined to make a winning start against a Castleford side who have also only won one league game this season.

Leeds are 10/1 to win the Challenge Cup for a 15th time in their history this season, while Cas are 20/1 to get their hands on the trophy for a fifth time.

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Saints ease into title defence

Cup holders St Helens should have little trouble progressing to the next round of the competition after being drawn against Championship side Whitehaven in the third round.

Whitehaven could find themselves on the end of a backlash after Saints suffered a shock 22-20 defeat at the hands of Super League newcomers Toulouse last weekend.

That first league defeat of the season will not have gone down well with head coach Kristian Woolf and Saints will be looking to put on a performance at the Recreation Ground this weekend.

St Helens will be heavy favourites for Saturday and are 2/1 to go on and lift the Challenge Cup again this season.

Wolves out for Wakey revenge

In the last of the three all-Super League fixtures in the cup this weekend, Warrington Wolves host Wakefield Trinity at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday.

These two sides met in the Super League last Saturday, with Wakefield pulling off an impressive 38-22 win across the Pennines.

That was only Wakefield's second league win of the campaign and once again highlighted the current inconsistent nature of this Warrington side.

The Wire have won three and lost three of their six league outings this term, as new head coach Daryl Powell still looks to get to grips with what he has at his disposal at the Halliwell Jones.

Warrington are one of the favourites at 9/2 to win the Challenge Cup this season, while a first title for Wakefield since 1963 is available at 50/1.

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