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Challenge Cup sixth round: Wigan Warriors through to quarter-finals after comeback win over Leeds Rhinos; Warrington win at Catalans

Wigan Warriors through to last eight of Challenge Cup after overturning 10-point half-time deficit; Warrington Wolves beat Catalans Dragons in France; Salford Red Devils held off two immense Huddersfield Giants fightbacks to progress too

Wigan warriors Junior Nsemba celebrates with Wigan warriors Harry Smith after he scores try against Leeds in Challenge Cup
Image: Junior Nsemba (R) celebrates with Harry Smith after scoring a try for Wigan

Bevan French sparked a blistering second-half revival as holders Wigan booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup with a hard-fought 18-14 win over Leeds at Headingley.

Eight days after the Warriors blew a 14-point lead to slump to a 40-18 defeat to the 12-player Rhinos in their Super League clash at the DW Stadium, the roles were reversed as Matt Peet's men scrubbed out a similar deficit.

Jake Wardle scampered over to put Wigan in front for the first time on 65 minutes, but Leeds missed a golden chance to at least draw level late on when Harry Newman sprang clear only to inexplicably fail to pass inside to Richie Myler, who looked certain to score.

Such an engrossing finale between the Challenge Cup's two most successful teams had looked unlikely after a relatively flat first half from which the Rhinos emerged 14-6 in front.

The immediate response demanded by Warriors coach Peet to last week's embarrassment had been slow in coming, as his patched-up side, still minus Jai Field and with Ryan Hampshire making a second debut for the club in the halves, toiled through the first-half hour.

Wigan warriors Jake Wardle he scores try against Leeds in Challenge Cup
Image: Jake Wardle scores the winning try for Wigan

Tom Holroyd pushed through a sluggish visitors' line to open the scoring on nine minutes, Rhyse Martin adding the extras for Rohan Smith's side who themselves lacked injured duo Ash Handley and Blake Austin.

Wardle revived Wigan with a surge across the halfway line, then had a try ruled out for a forward pass by French, but the visitors were hit by the loss of Ethan Havard with a suspected dislocated elbow.

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Martin stretched Leeds' lead to eight after an offside, then Newman went it alone as he juggled his way through a Havard-sized hole in the visitors rearguard, evading French on the line.

Leeds Rhino's Harry Newman scores in Challenge Cup against Wigan
Image: Harry Newman had helped Leeds establish a half-time lead

Martin's second conversion put his side 14-0 in front but Peet's men rallied and four minutes later they capitalised on a knock-on by Derrell Olpherts, Harry Smith finding French who crossed in the corner.

The momentum swung within 30 seconds of the restart as Liam Farrell sent French through a gap and under the posts for his second, Smith's kick hauling the visitors back within four at 14-10.

The Wigan pressure continued and they were level on 53 minutes through impressive 18-year-old Junior Nsemba, who ran onto a cool lay-off from Smith to notch his first try on his fourth Super League appearance.

Smith uncharacteristically scuffed his conversion, denying his side the chance to take the lead for the first time, but Wigan completed their turnaround on 65 after Myler fumbled a high ball on the edge of his own 10, and the impressive Wardle scampered over from the resulting scrum.

Smith missed his fourth of five, leaving Wigan's lead at 18-14, and Newman should have made him pay for his inaccuracy late on, but in electing to repeat his single-handed heroics from the first half, he ran into French, and Leeds' Challenge Cup hopes were over.

Catalans Dragons 14-16 Warrington Wolves

Warrington Wolves' Wembley dreams got off to a flying start in France with a hard-fought 16-14 win over Catalans Dragons.

Two tries for winger Matty Ashton were the difference in this see-saw match which went right to the wire.

The Wolves were under intense pressure from the home team in the early stages but were first to score in the 16th minute when Ashton latched onto a series of passes from George Williams and Stefan Ratchford out to the left wing to cross at the corner flag, Ratchford landing the difficult conversion.

Daryl Clark almost added a second try moments later but he lost control of the ball while attempting to ground over the line after a 10-metre dash through the Dragons' defence.

But there was no doubt about the next score when Williams brushed off an attempted tackle by Mitchell Pearce and released full-back Matt Dufty who finished on 25 minutes, with Ratchford's conversion putting his side 12-0 up.

Gil Dudson, returned from suspension to torment his old team-mates with some ferocious attacking runs but Warrington could not take any further advantage and the first half finished 12-6.

The Dragons came out strongly in the second half and winger Tom Johnstone continued his impressive scoring record this season with a 53rd-minute try in the left corner, but it was too wide for Mourgue to add the conversion.

But back came the Wolves, a series of penalties taking them further up the pitch where they forced a goal-line drop-out in the 58th minute and they were further boosted when Dragons hooker Michael McIlorum was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

Catalans turned the tables when Romano fumbled over the line before centre Matt Ikuvalu followed up moments later with a powerful burst from 10 metres out to put his side ahead for the first time in the game. Mourgue missed the conversion but the Dragons were in front 14-12 with 14 minutes to go.

The Dragons seemed destined for victory but a Romano knock-on five metres from his own line with just three minutes left to play put Warrington in the driving seat.

And when another former home favourite, Josh Drinkwater, spun the ball to the left, Ashton struck the killer blow with his second try of the game.

Salford Red Devils 42-40 Huddersfield Giants

Salford secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup after surviving not one but two incredible Huddersfield fightbacks to win 42-40.

In a chaotic encounter featuring 14 tries and 13 goals, Paul Rowley's side looked to be on course for a comfortable win over last year's beaten finalists after racing into a 24-0 lead.

But the Giants battled back to make it 24-22 early in the second half and the game was firmly in the balance.

Salford replied with three tries to make it 42-22 with 13 minutes remaining only for the Giants to hit back again with three scores of their own.

Huddersfield forward Luke Yates scored a hat-trick against his old club with Salford winger Rhys Williams claiming a double. But it was the goal-kicking of Marc Sneyd which proved decisive - the Salford scrum-half kicking seven from seven attempts while Huddersfield's Jake Connor finished with six goals from seven.

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