St Helens to take on Catalans for a place at Wembley

editorial image
Share this article

Playing in a semi-final double header is nothing new to Saints’ head coach Justin Holbrook who has welcomed the history-making ‘two matches for the price of one’ Ladbrokes Challenge Cup showdown in which the Super League leaders take on Catalans Dragons and neighbours Warrington Wolves face 2017 Grand Final winners Leeds Rhinos at the Macron Stadium, Bolton, on Sunday, August 5.

The Australian was involved in a similar concept when coaching reserve grade football back home and thinks it is a great idea.

Holbrook said: “It gives the occasion an extra buzz with four sets of fans in the stadium at the same time and will ensure a packed house on the day.”

Saints are already odds-on favourites to lift the coveted trophy at Wembley in August but will not be under-estimating the French club who have won their last four league and cup fixtures and seem to be on a roll following a poor start to the Super League campaign.

Holbrook said: “I know we face a fair wait before the tie is played but the Dragons are improving as the season wears on and the win at Huddersfield in the last round will have given them a great deal of confidence and time to gel further.

“We will be treating them with the respect they deserve on the day and while it is still a long way down the line, we happy at reaching the last four and are already looking forward to the occasion.”

The clubs last met in the competition during the 2009 season when Saints romped to a 42-8 home victory before eventually losing in the semi-final 24-14 to Huddersfield Giants.

They had also met two years earlier in the final itself - the first to be played at the new-look Wembley - and in terms of excitement it was virtually a non-event as Saints crushed the French side 30-8.

Both semi-finals will also be screened live by BBC TV in one uninterrupted broadcast.

Head of TV sport Philip Bernie said: “We have been working with the Rugby League for some time on this innovative idea. We are delighted the semi-finals of the most famous cup competition in rugby league will be showcased in this way.

“It will be a five-hour feast of rugby league, with that huge prize at stake - a Wembley final.”