Yates' view: Saints on course for double but why are cup ties not attracting big crowds?

There were plenty of empty spaces at all four Challenge Cup quarter final ties. Picture: SWPix
There were plenty of empty spaces at all four Challenge Cup quarter final ties. Picture: SWPix
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'One for all and all for one' is a motto traditionally associated with the titular heroes of the novel, The Three Musketeers, written by Alexandre Dumas in the 19th century.


Saints also seem to have adopted this philosophy as they remain on course for a league and cup double.

This was clearly evident in the way the Coral Rugby League Challenge Cup favourites brushed aside under strength Wakefield Trinity 48-10 at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Saturday afternoon - eight tries being shared by different player and included a Lachlan Coote hat-trick.

Second rower Zeb Taia, who 24 hours earlier had his contract extended for a further 12 months, celebrated his new deal by crossing the whitewash as well as being named as man of the match as St Helens booked their spot in the semi-final of the competition for the second successive year.

He said: ''It was just one of those days when the opportunities came our way and we took them.

''Everyone is working ever so hard and our success so far is simply down to all-round team work.''

Tommy Makinson, who scored one of his trademark tries in the right-hand corner during the second half, added: "We were determined to reach both finals last year but it didn't work out.

''Now we are one year older as a squad and a bit more experienced and hope it counts for something later in the season..''

Head coach Justin Holbrook declared himself happy with his players' display in public but privately he will no doubt have drawn attention to a little slipshod[ handling and complacency early in the second half which could have led to the Yorkshire side gaining a foothold in the game.

STILL on the subject of the Coral Challenge Cup, I'm wondering if the competition is losing some of its magic and needs revamping.

As a traditionalist, I have always felt that lifting the famous trophy at Wembley is a much more magical experience and occasion than winning the Old Trafford Grand Final.

Every Rugby League player worth his salt dreams of playing in one of the world's most famous arenas whether born in Great Britain, Australian, New Zealand, or the South Sea Islands.

But some fans have given a lukewarm reception to the competition in recent years - and this was crystal clear when looking at the attendance figures for the last-eight ties staged on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

A paltry total of 21,187 supporters flocked through the turnstiles at St Helens, Hull FC, Hull KR and Bradford - and clearly something needs to change in promoting the image of the game.
In St Helens' case, the 6,553 fans attending the match at the Totally Wicked Stadium represented round about half their average for a Super League fixture this year and even though I don't profess to know any of the answers, one was provided at Odsal where the Bulls faced neighbours Halifax.

The West Yorkshire derby pulled in 6,591 fans - the highest of the weekend - and while it couldn't be described as a massive gate, the extra interest in watching two Championship sides battling for a place one step from Wembley resulted in the increased crowd figure.

There haven't been too many shocks in recent years and that's hardly surprising when the Super League giants have only to win a few rounds and they're on their way to the Mecca of English sport.

It gives the minnows little chance of upsetting the applecart but if it was logically possible why not bring all the big guns on board maybe one round earlier and open the door to such mouth-watering derby clashes as Saints v Thatto Heath and Hull Dockers v Hull FC which would definitely attract more media interest than normal and also enhance the overall image of the game on a wider scale..

Of course, the minnows are on a hiding to nothing but how they would relish a once-in-a life-time chance to lock horns with the big guns and, if drawn at home, would make a few bob for their club on the day. Is it worth thinking about ?