Rugby League : Keighley draw cup holders Saints

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The Independent Online
Keighley Cougars, the one side from outside the top flight to beat Super League opposition in this year's Silk Cut Challenge Cup, have been drawn to meet the holders, St Helens, in the quarter-finals.

The club, which has been in the hands of administrators recently, beat Halifax on Sunday, but have been rewarded with the toughest of tasks against the Cup favourites, who fear that they will be without their influential Australian second-row, Derek McVey, who could have fractured a wrist.

The other First Division survivors, but ones with a proud Challenge Cup tradition - Featherstone Rovers - are at Leeds, while last season's beaten finalists, Bradford Bulls, travel to Oldham, who have never been to Wembley.

Perhaps the best tie, however, is at Warrington, where a resurgent Salford, who expect to have their stand-off and goal-kicker, Steve Blakeley, back in action to boost their chances, are the visitors. That is a likely choice for the televised match on 8 March; the remaining ties will be played the following day.

The parallel Silk Cut Plate competition has thrown up the prospect of a Leeds derby in the semi-finals. If Bramley can beat Widnes in their delayed quarter-final next Sunday, they will meet their near neighbours from Hunslet on 16 March. Leigh are at home to Hull KR in the other semi- final.

It is a case of one step back, one step forwards for the game in South Wales. The coach of the side that played in the Second Division last season and was due to join Super League this time, Clive Griffiths, has pulled out of a plan to establish an Academy side in the area.

Almost simultaneously, the League has said it is to employ a development officer to boost the grass-roots appeal of the code in the principality.

Bradford Bulls have responded to speculation that they are intending to take over York, the Second Division club up for sale for pounds 1. The Bradford chairman, Chris Caisley, would not confirm or deny the move but said: "We're a progressive club and always on the look out for business opportunities.

"Our strategic plan is to expand the Bulls' supporter base to a national level and anything which will assist us to do that is worthy of consideration."

Richie Eyres, the former Widnes and Leeds forward who has been playing union with Neath, is in talks with Salford.

SILK CUT CHALLENGE CUP Quarter-final draw: Keighley Cougars v St Helens; Oldham Bears v Bradford Bulls; Leeds Rhinos v Featherstone Rovers; Warrington Wolves v Salford Reds (Ties to be played 8 or 9 March).