Castleford roll back the years to reach Challenge Cup final
It has been 22 years since the rugby league fans from West Yorkshire sporting black, amber and white had something to look forward to.
That day a very good Castleford side were second best against a world class Wigan outfit, full of talent. Established internationals such as Dean Bell, Denis Betts, and Joe Lydon were complemented by stars Shaun Edwards and Martin Offiah for the Cherry and Whites.
Losing 28-12 on the day, the team from Wheldon Road was still littered with big names that included Graham Steadman, Richie Blackmore and Kiwi international Tawera Nikau.
Castleford, now re-branded with the suffix Tigers, as part of the Super League franchise appear to be amassing a squad not too dissimilar in talent to that of ’92.
Luke Dorn, Kirk Dixon, Daryl Clark and Marc Sneyd are all players who represent a talent pool capable of delivering silverware. Just like in 1992, they are the outsiders at 2/1 to lift the Challenge Cup trophy though will give it everything.
Odds-on at 4/11, Leeds Rhinos are undoubtedly favourites, though after failing to win it seven times in the last 14 years, they cannot afford to be complacent. Having been held in a dramatic 24-24 draw recently at Headingly in the Super League to Castleford, Leeds will be aware of the threats.
The evergreen Jamie Peacock took the man-of-the-match award in the Rhinos’ 24-16 victory over Warrington in their semi-final, and it could be his along with captain Kevin Sinfield’s experience, that proves the difference.
Castleford, meanwhile, were impressive against Betts’ Widnes side. Racing into a 10-0 lead within the first 10 minutes, they had added another four to the scoreboard by half time, with tries from Liam Finn, Clark and Dixon.
It was a great platform to build on. The Vikings didn’t score until 75 minutes, by which time Castleford were 28-0 up, after Jamie Ellis and Jake Webster crossed the whitewash.
Whatever the outcome in the final, the Challenge Cup is at least heading back to West Yorkshire.