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Tetley's Challenge Cup: Huddersfield Giants v St Helens preview
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St Helens head to Huddersfield on Sunday not only looking to maintain their perfect start to the season but also set out on what they hope will be a long and successful Tetley's Challenge Cup run.
The clash of the two Super League powerhouses is the pick of the fourth-round ties and will mean that one serious contender to lift the trophy at Wembley will suffer an early exit from the competition.
Saints go into the fixture off the back of a home win over Leeds despite missing a number of first-team regulars through either injury or suspension.
However they could welcome back a quintet of players this weekend; fit-again duo Luke Walsh and Jordan Turner are both included in coach Nathan Brown's 19-man squad after spells on the sidelines.
Prop pair Kyle Amor and Alex Walmsley also return, the former having completed a one-match ban that saw him sit out the 14-10 triumph over the Rhinos, while there is also a place in the party for second rower Willie Manu.
Jon Wilkin - who played for Saints when they last won the cup six years ago - is still banned. Indeed, with Paul Clough and Ade Gardner currently out on loan, Paul Wellens and James Roby are the only survivors from the team that beat Hull 28-16 back in the 2008 final.
"I'll be honest, if you'd have said in 2008 you won't win another trophy by 2014, I just wouldn't have believed you," Wellens said.
"We've come close on many occasions, especially in Grand Finals, but we've not quite got over the line.
"I think as players at St Helens, as well as our supporters and our chairman, we recognise that it's about time that changed and the Challenge Cup is a great opportunity to get some silverware."
St Helens fell at the first hurdle at Hull KR last year and captain Wellens believes the Giants will also pose a difficult threat.
"It is the pick of the round and the toughest too," said the former Great Britain international. "They are a great side and proved that by winning the League Leaders Shield last season.
"They have had an inconsistent start but I don't think that is a reflection on them as a group. I think they are a very strong side and they have shown that a lot over the last 12 to 18 months."
Huddersfield have certainly yet to hit their straps in 2014. While Saints have won seven from seven in league action, the Giants have only registered two victories so far in the campaign.
Coach Paul Anderson, who was in the St Helens team that actually defeated his current employers in the 2006 Cup final at Twickenham, is confident his side's fortunes will soon start to pick up.
"We aren't panicking," he said. "We'll continue working hard and smart whilst getting back to some basic stuff and understanding what we want to achieve as a club and then things will turn around."
The hosts know all about a cup drought - they haven't had their hands on the famous piece of silverware since 1953. Anderson has named Joe Wardle and Aaron Murphy in his squad in place of Leroy Cudjoe and Josh Johnson.
Huddersfield: Grix, McGillvary, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Bailey, Lawrence, Faiumu, Ta'ai, Wood, Broughton, Kaufusi, Connor.
St Helens: Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Hohaia, Walsh, Masoe, Roby, Soliola, Manu, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Greenwood, Walker, Dawson.
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|Tetleys Challenge Cup|
|Saturday 23rd August|
|Castleford 10 - 23 Leeds|
|Sunday 10th August|
|Widnes 6 - 28 Castleford|
|Saturday 9th August|
|Leeds 24 - 16 Warrington|
|Sunday 8th June|
|Bradford 10 - 46 Warrington|
|Saturday 7th June|
|Wigan 4 - 16 Castleford|
|Friday 6th June|
|Leeds 25 - 12 Leigh|
|Thursday 5th June|
|Widnes 56 - 6 Keighley|
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