Hockey: Tough task for Wigan

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The Independent Online
The draw for the entry of First Division clubs into the Silk Cut Challenge Cup has thrown together six of the biggest in the fourth round. Wigan, winners for the last seven years, are at home to their hungriest rivals, St Helens, in the match of the round. "It's not a bad tie, because we're at home," said Wigan's Great Britain forward, Denis Betts, who will hit the Wembley trail for the last time before leaving to join the Auckland Warriors at the end of the season.

"Someone has got to knock us off some time and Saints are the side that would love to do it. The longer our run goes on, the more you don't want to be the side that loses the Challenge Cup.

"I think Wigan are capable of carrying on for several more years yet. We've won our last two games against them so maybe that gives us the psychological advantage, but if Saints have one of their days you just never know."

That is likely to be the televised match on 11 February, but in a game of almost equal resonance, last year's beaten finalists and First Division leaders, Leeds, are at home to their neighbours, Bradford Northern. Two of the First Division's other leading clubs, Warrington and Castleford, clash in the other outstanding tie of the weekend.

The one amateur club guaranteed a place in the fourth round, Beverley, have been rewarded for their victory over the professionals of Highfield on Sunday with a home draw against Batley, who are second in the Second Division. Beverley's own ground would not meet the required standard for the match, so it is likely that they will switch it to nearby Hull, who are drawn away at Workington Town.

"An amateur club have never been in the fifth round, but we must have a little bit of a chance," Beverley's spokesman, Steve Ellerington, said.

Doncaster are drawn at home in a South Yorkshire Derby against Sheffield Eagles, but two of their players could face disciplinary action from the Rugby League. Jamie Bloem, the South African full-back banned for two years for using an anabolic steroid, could be charged with bringing the game into disrepute over his allegations that 12 other unnamed players are also taking the drug. The case of his team-mate, Sonny Whakarau, may also be considered by the League's board of directors.

Silk Cut Challenge Cup fourth-round draw: Carlisle v Widnes; Warrington v Castleford; Leeds v Bradford;Beverley v Batley; Huddersfield v Halifax; Whitehaven v Wakefield Trinity; Swinton v Leigh; Wigan v St Helens; Workington Town v Hull; Keighley or Chorley v Dewsbury or Kells; Doncaster v Sheffield Eagles; Ryedale-York v Rochdale; Hunslet v Salford; Featherstone Rovers v Barrow; Oldham v Bramley; London Broncos v Hull Kingston Rovers or Thornhill.

(Ties to be played 11 or 12 February).

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