After an exciting competition so far which has seen some shock results, the Challenge Cup sixth round saw the influx of Super League's top eight sides who would have to be wary of the lower league sides who eyed further scalps.
The round opened on Friday night with televised action at the Fox's Biscuits Stadium, Championship side Batley Bulldogs hosted Super League high-fliers Catalan Dragons hoping to stage a shock win. However, the hosts' hopes were dented early on as Fouad Yaha crossed for the opening try on five minutes with Pat Richards converting for 6-0. Vincent Duport extended the lead on 24 minutes with Richards improving for 12-0, the Bulldogs did very well to keep the score to just 12-0 in a battling first 40 minutes.
The Dragons took full control of the game as Duport and Richie Myler both crossed within six minutes of the restart with Richards converting just the former for 22-0 before tries from Dave Taylor and Tony Gigot (Richards conv) ahead of the hour pushed the advantage to 34-0. Batley avoided a nilling as Alex Brown crossed to put them on the board at 34-4 but it was to be only a consolation as Gigot claimed his second ten minutes from he end with Richards converting to confirm a 40-4 success.
Friday's non-televised action came from the John Smith's Stadium as Huddersfield Giants hosted fierce rivals and holders Leeds Rhinos for the second time in the space of a week after the Giants secured a win in the league. Leeds made a perfect start with Jimmy Keinhorst crossing in the opening minute with Jordan Lilley converting for 6-0. Ukuma Ta'ai and Jermaine McGillvary crossed for the hosts to turn the game around with Danny Brough converting both for 12-6. Ryan Brierley (Brough conv) extended the lead just before half-time before a Jake Connor drop goal made it 19-6 into the interval.
Liam Sutcliffe (Lilley conv) crossed to cut the gap for Leeds for 19-12 but Kyle Wood (Brough conv) pushed the score to 25-12 before a second effort from Keinhorst kept Leeds in the hunt at 25-16 before the game became 'The Brough Show' as the Giants captain scored a penalty goal, self-converted try and two drop goals in a 16 minute period to make it 35-16. Anthony Mullally (Lilley conv) cut the gap for the Rhinos before Brough swept over a third drop goal to wrap up a 36-22 victory
Saturday's televised action came from the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as Castleford Tigers hosted Salford Red Devils. The visitors opened the scoring through Junior Sau inside nine minutes with Gareth O'Brien converting for 0-6 before Mike McMeeken replied for the hosts with Paul McShane converting for 6-6. Sau crossed for a second time just before the half hour mark with O'Brien kicking for 6-12 but a tries from Jake Webster and McMeeken saw McShane convert for an 18-12 half-time advantage.
Denny Solomona increased the lead within a minute of the restart before Robert Lui (O'Brien conv) kept the visitors in the hunt at 22-18. McShane crossed for a a try of his own which he converted for 28-18 before Solomona sealed the win with his second try for a 32-18 final score.
Saturday's other action saw Championship side Oldham Roughyeds host Super League leaders Warrington Wolves. The hosts made a great start to a potential shock win as Michael Ward crossed inside seven minutes with Lewis Palfrey converting for 6-0 before Chris Hill replied for the visitors with Kurt Gidley converting for 6-6. Warrington took control with tries from Ben Jullien, Ben Currie and Rhys Evans in the last ten minutes of the first half with Gidley converting twice for a 6-22 lead at the interval.
George King posted a six minute hat-trick ahead of an effort from Tom Lineham within ten minutes of the restart with Gidley converting twice for a huge 6-42 lead. The hosts were out of the contest just after the hour mark as Gene Ormsby crossed either side of a second score from Currie with extras from Stefan Ratchford and Gidley for 6-58. A debut try from Morgan Smith and a second from Jullien saw Ratchford convert for 6-70. Oldham did have the last say as Gareth Owen crossed for 10-70.
Sunday afternoon saw Stadium Travels visit The Tetley's Stadium as Championship side Dewsbury Rams hosted Wigan Warriors hoping to avenge their heavy defeat from two seasons ago. The Warriors raced into a 12-0 lead inside ten minutes as Josh Charnley crossed either side of a try from George Williams. Oliver Gildart and Dan Sarginson (Charnley convs) extended the lead to 0-24 before Paul Sykes got the Rams on the board at 4-24. A brace from John Bateman (Charnley convs ) set up a strong 4-36 lead at the interval.
Wigan resumed their control on the game with two scores in the first four minutes of the second half as Ryan Sutton crossed ahead of a second from Gildart with Charnley's conversions making it 4-48. Lewis Tierney got in on the act on 54 minutes but with Charnley's conversion making it 4-54, Dewsbury did well to prevent any further scores as they ended the game losing just 0-18 in the second half.
The second of Sunday's Championship v Super League battles came from The Shay as Halifax hosted Widnes Vikings with the hosts hoping to better last season's narrow loss in the Middle 8s. Widnes struck first as Aaron Heremaia crossed inside four minutes with Hanbury converting for 0-6 before James Saltonstall replied with Steve Tyrer converting for 6-6. Lloyd Whire and Chris Houston's efforts put the visitors in control with Hanbury kicking both for 6-18 ahead of a late first half effort from Adam Robinson which Tyrer converted for 12-18.
The hosts drew level within six minutes of the restart as Miles Greenwood crossed with Tyrer converting for 18-18. Charly Runciman regained the lead for the Vikings at 18-22 before a late try from James Chapelhow saw Hanbury seal an 18-28 win with the resulting conversion.
The only non Championship/Super League meeting of the round saw Wakefield Wildcats hosting League One side Toulouse. The Wildcats stormed into a 22-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes with a brace from Tom Johnstone sandwiching efforts from Jacob Miller and Craig Hall with Liam Finn converting all but the opening try. The visitors got on the board on 27 minutes as Gavin Marguerite crossed for 22-4 ahead on an effort from Murrad Kriouache which was converted by Mark Kheierallah for 22-10.
Matt Ashurst crossed for the first try of the second half with Finn converting for 28-10 before a double from the French side in the space of five minutes kept them in the contest. Declan Hulme and Kuni Minga crossed with Kheirallah converting both for 28-22 with 12 minutes left. However, the Wildcats survived the comeback and sealed a place in the last eight with two further scores from Johnstone which Finn converted for a 40-22 triumph.
The final action of the round was the televised tie at Langtree Park between St Helens and Hull FC. The hosts struck first with a try from Marc Percival which Luke Walsh converted for 6-6 ahead of a reply from Danny Houghton with Marc Sneyd converting for 6-6. Tries from Scott Taylor and Gareth Ellis (Sneyd convs) saw the visitors take a 6-18 lead before Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (Walsh conv) replied for Saints at 12-18. Hull ensured a three score lead at the interval as Jamie Shaul crossed with Sneyd converting before sweeping over a drop goal for 12-25.
A self-converted try from Walsh within five minutes of the restart made it 18-25 but from there, Hull took full control as Curtis Naughton and Kirk Yeaman crossed either side of a Sneyd penalty for 18-37. The win was wrapped up by two tries in the final ten minutes as Taylor claimed his second ahead of an effort from Fetuli Talanoa with Sneyd converting just the former in a huge 18-47 rout.