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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 09 Mar 2007 11:20:00 GMT
This time the West Yorkshire town will be focussed on more than the exploits of their famous Cup fighting professional club, Castleford Tigers, because on this occasion they are the giants that their amateur neighbours Castleford Lock Lane will be seeking to fell.

In a dream tie for the amateur club, who have reached this stage in Rugby League’s most famous domestic knockout competition for the tenth time in 12 years, Lock Lane have set their stall out to push the Tigers every inch of the way.

As the professional club, the Tigers start firm favourites. But local bragging rights will be up for grabs and the professional side will realise that for the amateur club this game equals a Cup Final. The amateurs don’t have a great deal to lose while the Tigers would be seriously embarrassed if they were defeated.

Castleford Head Coach Terry Matterson has already stated publicly that he will leave out a number of his normal first team squad. He said: “We’ll be resting anybody who isn’t 100 per cent fit but we shall still be putting out a strong side.

“We’ve got a duty to the town to select a strong side and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The tie, which is expected to attract a big attendance in this great centre of Rugby League, is the opportunity of a lifetime for National Conference League Division One club Lock Lane.

“Once we had beaten Bradford Dudley Hill in the last round everybody was hoping we would draw the Tigers. It’s buzzing at our club and the boys will be going out to do their best,” said Lock Lane secretary John Walsh.

A neighbouring West Yorkshire amateur club from just across the other side of the M62 motorway will be facing National League One opposition when NCL Division Two club Normanton Knights take on Widnes Vikings.

Steve McCormack, the Widnes coach, may be one of the youngest coaches in the professional game but he’s been round long enough to know that Cup ties against amateur clubs can be tough, physically demanding fixtures.

On paper at least Widnes should hold too many big guns for the Knights but the Vikings still have bitter memories of being strong favourites to beat Toulouse in the 2005 Quarter Finals and coming unstuck.

Joan Langley, the mother of Bradford Bulls’ highly-rated back row forward Jamie Langley, is the Knights’ chairperson. She said: “Some of the older players at our club are really excited about the prospect of playing in the Third Round.

“They keep saying that they’ve waited more than 10 years for this opportunity because we’ve not been in the Third Round for quite some time.

“Widnes have been fantastic with us and we’re even taking our under-eight age group team because they’re playing a curtain raiser to the Cup tie.”

Joan’s husband John – Jamie’s dad – played for Leeds in the 1971 Challenge Cup Final against Leigh. He was also a non-playing sub in the infamous Wembley ’Watersplash’ Final in 1968 against Wakefield Trinity.

Beyond the romance of the annual ’David v Goliath’ clashes in the Third Round, there are two all National League One ties, Dewsbury Rams v Leigh Centurions and Whitehaven v Doncaster Lakers, while the European flavour is maintained by the entry of three French clubs and a further Russian club.

Dewsbury Rams were promoted to National League One at the end of last season and, so far in 2007, they have lost just one of their four Northern Rail Cup qualifying round fixtures. But they will be seriously challenged at home by a Leigh Centurions team who beat Widnes Vikings 24-8 in the Northern Rail Cup last Sunday.

Under new Football Manager Darren Shaw the Centurions have been slow off the mark this season, having lost two of their four Northern Rail Cup rounds. But their win over the Vikings gives some indication as to their potential and the Rams will have to be on their best form to withstand this challenge.

Whitehaven fans should have the opportunity to see two of their former players, Australian forward Ryan Tandy and halfback Joel Penny, in action for their new club Doncaster Lakers when the South Yorkshire club visit the Recreation Ground.

Both coaches, Dave Rotheram of Whitehaven and Keiran Dempsey of the Lakers, have said that they expect a tough encounter while remaining optimistic about their ability to progress into Monday night’s Fourth Round draw.

Lokomotiv Moscow visit Swinton Lions for the second time in three years in the Challenge Cup. The previous visit by the Russian Champions to the west Manchester club ended in a 70-10 defeat for the overseas team but Swinton coach Paul Kidd is hrefusing to take any risks.

“We don’t know anything about the present Moscow team,” he said. “They have had two more years of Rugby League experience and we shall prepare is the same way as we would to face a team from the engage Super League.

“They’re good people at Lokomotiv. Last time they visited us in 2005 they came to watch us train and invited us to watch them train. After the game we enjoyed meeting them in a social setting but it’ll be business as usual when we meet them on the field.”

Three French clubs - Limoux, Pia and Toulouse - return to England in search of Carnegie Challenge Cup glory this weekend.

Limoux are drawn against Gateshead Thunder, for whom it will be the fourth time in five years that they have faced French opposition. Two years ago UTC from Perpignan emerged as 56-6 winners on Tyneside while a year earlier Limoux won at the International Stadium 26-22.

But Thunder, with their new coach Australian Dave Woods, will be determined to buck that particular trend and make it into the Fourth Round draw.

Pia’s last trip to England ended with a 72-0 defeat up at Whitehaven, although they did beat London Skolars in 2005 and Barrow Raiders in 2004. More is expected of the club currently running second in the French League and they should prove to be a stern test for Blackpool Panthers, who have been beaten by Toulouse in the previous two years.

Toulouse, the current French Championship leaders, reached the semi finals in 2005 when they were coached by current Hull KR boss Justin Morgan and they open this year’s campaign by travelling to play National League Two club York City Knights.

The town of Rochdale has a strong interest in the Third Round. Its professional club, the Hornets, face a challenge from amateurs Saddleworth Rangers while the area’s top amateur side Rochdale Mayfield play away at in-form Hunslet Hawks from National League Two.

Hornets will start as massive favourites over NCL Division Two club Saddleworth but the amateur club from the Pennine hills just outside neighbouring Oldham will be determined to make an impression during the tie at Spotland Stadium.

Last year Saddleworth reached the Third Round and were beaten 34-10 by their other professional neighbours Oldham.

Rangers have supplied many players for both Oldham and Hornets over the years and this tie against their nearest professional club is an opportunity for their players to shine again.

Mayfield, who are coached by former Bradford and Hornets centre Matt Calland, are the current runaway leaders of the NCL Division One but they will have their hands full against a much-improved National League Two club Hunslet Hawks.

Last year the Hawks downed amateur club East Hull 20-2 at this stage in the competition and they start as firm favourites to reach the Fourth Round draw.

Workington Town will be anticipating a touch encounter with reigning NCL Premier Division Champions Oulton Raiders from Leeds. Last year Town were beaten 16-12 by Dewsbury amateur club Thornhill Trojans from the same elite amateur competition and Town’s form so far this season can best be described as ‘erratic’.

Thornhill will fancy their chances of reaching the Fourth Round for the second successive year as they visit Keighley Cougars, a young side that is led by player-coach Barry Eaton. The Trojans went out at Catalans Dragons in the Fourth Round last year and have set themselves a target of playing another engage Super League club in the next round.

Halifax’s Welsh international scrum half Ian Watson has an added reason for anticipating their Third Round tie against NCL Division One club Eccles and Salford Juniors as he is likely to face his younger brother Glynn who plays for the amateur club. But it is likely to be an uphill struggle for the Juniors as Halifax are unbeaten in four games at the top of the Northern Rail Cup Qualifying Division Two.

National Conference League Premier Division leaders Leigh Miners Rangers go in against National League One newcomers Sheffield Eagles at Hilton Park, Leigh and this should provide an interesting comparison between the current best of the amateur game’s elite competition and a club promoted from National League Two at the end last year.

West Hull, who are running second in the NCL Premier Division, will entertain hopes of a giant-killing act when they play National League Two club Barrow Raiders at Ionians rugby union club on Sunday. It will be a long journey to east Yorkshire for the Furnessmen and they will already know that Wests are a team with which to be reckoned.

The previous day at Ionians another leading NCL Premier Division team, East Hull, who are coached by Hull FC forward Lee Radford - a Challenge Cup winner with Bradford Bulls in 2003 - take on Oldham and Easts too will be confide - Read More, Here