Rhinos may not be able to charge clear of Featherstone
Championship clubs have tested top-flight teams in cup
Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final
Sky Sports 3, 8pm Friday
Last year’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup winners Hull couldn’t have had it much tougher en route to Wembley glory.
Their opponents were placed fifth, fourth, third and second in the Betfred Super League at the time of the ties.
By contrast, Leeds, Racing Post Sport’s main tip for the trophy this season, can have no complaints about the luck of the draw.
For the third consecutive round the Rhinos have been handed a home tie against lower-league opposition and after comfortably seeing off Doncaster and Barrow, Brian McDermott’s boys are 1-50 to reach the semis at the expense of Featherstone.
Fev, who sit fourth in the Championship have beaten fellow second-tier clubs Bradford, Oldham and Halifax and receive a 32-point start in the handicap market.
Coach Jon Sharp will have Cory Aston available. The half back is on loan from Leeds and the Rhinos have given him permission to play against them. Aston is 4-1 to bite the hand that feeds him by scoring a try.
The favourites are without the suspended Jamie Jones-Buchanan but hope to have Rob Burrow back from a shoulder injury.
The Rhinos hammered Rovers 62-6 in the Middle Eights last year but top-flight teams haven’t found it quite so easy against Championship clubs in this season’s cup ties.
Leigh and Huddersfield lost to Hull KR and Swinton respectively in the fifth round while Salford and Wigan failed to cover the handicap against those two second-tier clubs in the following round.
Leeds have racked up the points against League One opponents in their previous ties but may find it tougher to cut loose.
Elsewhere, Huddersfield host St Helens in a rearranged Super League fixture.
A Magic Weekend win has been the catalyst for a decent run of results for both sides – they’ve both won three of their last four games.
It’s difficult to argue with the bookmakers’ assessment that having ground advantage makes the Giants fractional favourites.
1pt 11-10 bet365