Rugby League: Leeds struggle to make Bradford date

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The Independent Online
LEEDS WERE made to struggle by a determined Widnes side yesterday but they won through comfortably enough in the end, 46-10, and were then given the draw they did not want - against Bradford.

Their Challenge Cup semi-final will take place on Sunday, 28 March at Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium, a venue where, in 1996 and 1997, Bradford knocked out Leeds at the same stage of the competition.

Matthew Elliott, the Bradford coach, accepted that the meeting would have made a dream final in the last rugby league match to be played at Wembley before the stadium is rebuilt.

"You would probably have to say Leeds are the toughest side left in the draw," he said "Castleford and London were among the teams not really expected to get to Wembley but one of them will be there now."

It took Leeds some time to overcome their Northern Ford Premiership opponents - who took the lead with a penalty and it was 10-all 16 minutes into the second half - but they ran in five tries, including two for Andy Hay to complete his hat-trick, in the final 15 minutes in the Auto Quest Stadium.

Castleford, West Yorkshire's third representative in the last four, will take on the London Broncos in the first semi-final at Headingley a day earlier.

Castleford reached their first semi-final for five years at the expense of Salford on Saturday while London reached their second successive semi- final after a comfortable 54-6 win over Whitehaven.

Martin Offiah crossed for a club-record five tries for the Broncos after the Premiership side took the lead but that was as good as it got for the visitors.

Two tries from Salford old-boy Darren Rogers helped Castleford to a 30-10 win in a game that was turned when the Salford captain David Hulme, was twice sent to the sin-bin for interference at the play-the-ball and the Tigers made their numerical advantage pay.


Castleford v London

(Headingley, Sat 27 March)

Bradford v Leeds

(McAlpine Stadium, Sun 28 March)