Kick-off: 1500, 12/08/2023
Leigh and Hull KR are both surprising but fully deserved Challenge Cup finalists and a high-energy contest is on the cards at Wembley.
The Leopards are bidding for their first cup triumph since 1971, while Rovers’ only final in this century ended in dismal fashion as they were routed 50-0 by Leeds in 2015.
Each side will be determined to seize this big opportunity to secure silverware, but it is Leigh who get the nod at 4/7 to prevail in our Challenge Cup final predictions.
Leigh buoyed by semi win over Saints
Leigh have been a revelation this season, featuring in the top three of the Super League table and showing great spirit on a regular basis.
In this competition, the Leopards were convincing victors at Wakefield and York before coming from behind to edge out St Helens 12-10 in the semis.
Promotion from the Championship last season was Leigh’s fourth in the Super League era but they were immediately relegated back to the second tier on the three previous occasions in 2005, 2017 and 2021.
However, a switch of name – from the Centurions to the Leopards – and the signing of several marquee players has brought a change in fortunes.
Ex-England winger Tom Briscoe said: “We’ll take the confidence from our form in the Super League and the way we were able to get past Saints in the semis. To get through that is obviously a massive confidence booster.
“But we’ve been doing that all season, the level we’ve been playing at and the intensity has been high. We’ll take a lot of confidence from that and the experiences from previous years in all the players.
“Getting newly-promoted, it’s a tough ask to come up and challenge but the squad that’s been put together is obviously a strong one and we’re living up to the potential we’ve got.”
Looking at the 4/5 for Leigh to win by at least four points on the handicap market.
Rovers must overcome injury issues
Hull KR thrashed Batley 50-0 in the sixth round and saw off Salford 28-10 in the quarter-finals before upsetting the odds against Wigan.
Rovers shaded the Warriors thanks to a golden point drop-goal in extra time and will now hunt their first Challenge Cup victory since their only previous triumph over city rivals Hull FC in 1980.
“Getting to Wembley is a great achievement and we’re obviously going to be playing against a great Leigh team,” said head coach Willie Peters. “It’s cool to have two clubs like ours in a Wembley final.
“You’ve got to celebrate the little wins along the way, but we need to learn from 2015 when we probably got a little bit carried away in terms of winning the semi-final.”
It is worth noting, though, that Wigan were left reeling from Joe Shorrocks’ sending-off for a high tackle in the first minute of the second half.
Rovers have been rocked by injury problems over the past couple of months and that could catch up with them here.
Briscoe scored a record five tries to capture the Lance Todd Trophy when playing for Leeds against the Robins eight years ago.
“That 2015 final is probably the highlight of my career,” he stated. “It’s always a special time to look back on and hopefully I can recreate some of that this weekend.”
Let’s go with the winger to score the first try as another Leigh vs Hull KR prediction.
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