Saturday sees the much awaited all Yorkshire Final between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers in the Challenge Cup final. Wembley will host the event that marks the showpiece of the Rugby League calendar by welcoming two of the form teams in the Super League this season (currently Leeds are 3rd, Castleford 5th) for what promises to be a close, but exciting tussle. They have already played twice this season, Leeds winning 22-14 away at Wheldon Road and the other game ending in a 24-24 draw, but the league form often counts for nothing when the cup comes around.

Both teams suffered defeats in the league in their latest round of matches, as they experimented a little with their squad players. Leeds were humbled by bottom of the table London Broncos, while Cas were heavily beaten by in form Warrington Wolves. No major injuries were paramount in those games though, and both still sit handily placed for the playoffs come the end of the regular season.

Leeds have suffered heartache in the cup in recent seasons, losing in the final six times (including three in a row between 2010 and 2012) since they last won against London Broncos in 1999. Cas have to go back even further to 1986 for their last of four cup final successes, having been runners up in 1992.

Experience of the Wembley atmosphere may be seen to be an advantage for many of the Rhinos players, but it could also provide a mental block should the match become tight. In which case they will need to draw on their rich pedigree in the Super League playoffs, where they have won the trophy five times in the last seven seasons. They boast internationals such as Kevin Sinfield (captain and ‘Mr Consistency’ in the kicking department), Danny McGuire (try poacher extraordinaire), Ryan Hall (a winger who can save tries besides scoring them) , the 'ageless" Jamie Peacock (a deserved man of the match in their tight semi final victory over Warrington), pocket rocket Rob Burrow...the list goes on.

Not that Cas are there to make up the numbers, as captain and England international Michael Shenton will be keen to assert on the day. Coach Daryl Powell has been keen to draw on the experiences of ex heroes like Kevin and Bob Beardmore who starred in the 1986 triumph, besides their winning coach that year, Malcolm Reilly who had two spells playing for Castleford besides playing for England and GB. Their players may not be household names but their team ethic all season makes them a real threat, especially in the one off of the cup, as was ably demonstrated in their dominant victory over Widnes in the semis. They have up and coming stars like ‘Man of Steel’ (outstanding player in the British game for the season) contender Daryl Clark at hooker (opposite Burrow), tipped to be an England star of the future, besides veterans such as 34 year old forward Andy Lynch. Pitting his kicking skills against Sinfield’s will be Mark Sneyd, a real hit on loan from Salford for the season and don’t forget the man of the match in the Widnes semi, Luke Dorn.

Phil Bentham will referee the final , whilst Reilly represents an ideal choice as Chief Guest including the presentation of the trophy to the winning team, as he has had coaching spells at both Castleford and Leeds during his career. 
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