Rugby League: Leeds are content to avoid Wigan

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WIGAN and Leeds, the only teams definitely in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup, avoided each other in last night's draw.

Wigan will play Oldham or Bradford Northern, while Leeds will meet the winners of the replay between Widnes and Hull Kingston Rovers. The matches will be played on 13 and 27 March, but the venues will not be decided until the four semi-finalists are known.

Leeds, who play Wigan in a league match tomorrow, will have few complaints about missing them in the cup. 'Everyone wanted to avoid Wigan, but Widnes are in fine form, too,' Garry Schofield, the Leeds stand-off and Great Britain captain, said.

Oldham have been told that they must make every attempt to play their postponed quarter-final against Bradford tomorrow. If that is impossible - and their Watersheddings ground is one of the game's bleakest venues - it will be rearranged for Sunday, with both sides postponing the league games scheduled for the weekend.

If the game is played tomorrow night, Bradford have volunteered to go ahead with their televised Friday night match against Wakefield.

Widnes fear that they will not only be without their New Zealand prop, Esene Faimalo, for tomorrow's replay against Hull KR but also for the rest of the season. Faimalo - Widnes' best player this season - is thought to have damaged knee ligaments and sees a specialist today.

Kurt Sorensen, Faimalo's veteran fellow-countryman, will play his second game in four days - a situation that Phil Larder, the Widnes coach, tries to avoid.

Larder revealed that he asked the referee, Colin Steele, to abandon the tie at half-time on Sunday. 'Conditions were so bad that we spent the interval putting players in the shower to thaw them out,' he said.

The Hull KR full-back, David Liddiard, was 'in the early stages of hypothermia', his coach, George Fairbairn, said, and needed medical attention for half an hour before he could resume.

A damaged ankle is likely to force Martin Offiah to miss Great Britain's Test in France on Sunday as well as Wigan's match at Leeds tomorrow. Andy Platt should play against Leeds, despite painful ribs.

SILK CUT CHALLENGE CUP Semi-finals: Leeds v Hull KR or Widnes; Oldham or Bradford Northern v Wigan. Ties to be played 13 and 27 March; venues and order of play to be decided.

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