Bulls produce stirring fightback
A review of the weekend's action in the Tetley's Challenge Cup.
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Bradford savoured some temporary relief from their Super League struggles by earning a place in the quarter-finals of the Tetley's Challenge Cup with a battling 33-20 comeback win over Catalan Dragons.
The bottom of the table Bulls, who shipped in a massive 130 points in two games over the Easter period, made an awful start, conceding three tries in the opening 13 minutes to Daryl Millard, Ben Pomeroy and Oliver Elima.
But, with four players back from injury and illness and bolstered by the midweek loan signing of Jay Pitts from Hull, the home side replied with 30 unanswered points in less than half an hour to turn a 16-0 deficit into a 30-16 lead through Lee Gaskell, Jamie Foster (2), Luke Gale and Adrian Purtell.
The Dragons, losing finalists in 2007, responded with a try from Michael Oldfield but lost their composure in a frantic attempt to repair the damage allowing the Bulls a place in the last-eight draw for the first time since 2010.
Bradford's Foster, returning after being taken sick over Easter, claimed a 20-point personal haul.
Justin Carney scored four tries as Castleford breezed into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2011 after seeing off the threat of Championship side Sheffield in a 12-try 60-16 romp.
The result was rarely in doubt despite Sheffield posting the first try of the afternoon after just three minutes as Super League side Castleford came through to win 60-16.
The Eagles started the strongest and Scott Turner worked his way over in the corner to stun the home faithful.
However, that was as good as it got for the visitors in the first period, as Cas hit back with a spell of four tries in just 12 minutes.
Jamie Ellis (2), Grant Millington, Ashley Gibson, Kirk Dixon, Daryl Clark, Jordan Tansey and Oliver Holmes all crossed for the Tigers, while Dane Straugher and Tom Ashton claimed further tries for Sheffield.
Matty Bowen helped himself to three tries as Wigan progressed with an efficient 52-8 victory over Hunslet.
Wigan ran in seven tries in the first half, killing the contest, to lead 42-8 and make the second half largely a question of playing out time.
The game went flat after the break as Hunslet dug in to avoid the sort of heavy defeat Wigan are well capable of dishing out, with only Dan Sarginson and Jordan James crossing for tries before the end.
George Williams, Matty Smith (2) and LIam Farrell also crossed for the Warriors, with Hunslet's tries coming from Danny Grimshaw and Lee Mapals.
Danny Craven made the most of his last-minute call-up by steering Widnes into the last eight of the Tetley's Challenge Cup.
The 22-year-old half-back was drafted in by Vikings coach Denis Betts for his fifth appearance of the season when Grant Gore was injured in the warm-up and he went on to play a key role in their 30-20 fifth-round win over a mis-firing Salford.
Full-back Rhys Hanbury scored two of Widnes' five tries in a match they dominated for an hour but almost let victory slip from their grasp in a thrilling finish as the Red Devils staged a dramatic fight back through Junior Sau, Gareth Hock and Lama Tasi.
Warrington stand-off Chris Bridge claimed a 36-point haul as the Wolves eased into the quarter-finals with a 68-0 thrashing of Championship outfit Doncaster.
Bridge scored four tries and landed 10 goals from 12 attempts, while winger Kevin Penny also claimed a hat-trick of tries in the rout at the Halliwell Jones stadium.
The Wolves, who have tasted Challenge Cup glory at Wembley on three occasions in the last five years, scored further tries from Matty Russell, Ryan Atkins, Joel Monaghan, Rhys Evans and Brad Dwyer.
Leigh's in-form half-back Ryan Brierley scored a hat-trick of tries to help his side reach the last eight with a 26-16 victory over Championship rivals Featherstone.
Brierley, who is the Championship's runaway leading scorer with 17 tries so far this season, touched down twice in the first half and completed his hat-trick six minutes from the end to end Rovers' resistance and maintain the only unbeaten record in the game this year.
Three-quarters Will Sharp and James Mendeika scored two tries apiece for the visitors, who were level at 12-12 at the break, but Gareth Moore and Kyle Briggs missed all four kicks at goal between them.
Two first-half tries from full-back Zak Hardaker saw Leeds beat St Helens 32-12 and kept them on course for their first Tetley's Challenge Cup triumph since 1999.
The stand-out fifth-round tie at Headingley lived up to all expectations as the Rhinos showed their class to establish a 20-6 lead before demonstrating their new-found defensive resolve to keep the visitors at bay in a spirited fightback.
Leeds finally confirmed victory with tries from Danny McGuire and Jamie Peacock in the last seven minutes of a quality match to condemn St Helens to a third successive defeat.
The game was seen as a clash of the two most exciting sets of outside backs in the English game and it fully justified its billing, with Leeds' big names edging out Saints' rising youngsters.
In Saturday's other game, Keighley reached the quarter-finals with a 33-20 win at Swinton.