Hull KR v Castleford Tigers: Full-back Niall Evalds hoping for double celebration after Challenge Cup quarter-final

The last time Castleford Tigers visited Hull KR in the Betfred Challenge Cup, a year ago on Saturday, stand-in full-back Gareth O’Brien took responsibility for the match-winning kick, but regular No 1 Niall Evalds was left holding the baby.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Tigers return to Sewell Group Craven Park on Friday evening, but the quarter-final tie is unlikely to be as dramatic or memorable for Evalds as the 2021 classic.

That tie went into the 19th minute of extra-time before O’Brien landed the golden-point winning drop goal, after Tigers had equalised on the final play of normal time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The game was played behind closed doors and like Tigers’ fans, Evalds had to keep in touch remotely - but for a very special reason.

Niall Evalds was a try scorer when Tigers lost to St Helens at Wembley last year. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Niall Evalds was a try scorer when Tigers lost to St Helens at Wembley last year. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Niall Evalds was a try scorer when Tigers lost to St Helens at Wembley last year. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“My missus, Sophie, was in labour and my son, August, was born that night,” Evalds recalled.

“I had it on my phone, I was streaming the match while my missus was in labour, so she wasn’t too happy - she kept saying ‘get off your phone’.

“I was keeping updated and we were dead and buried at half-time, but we came through the other end.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“August arrived an hour after the end of the game so I had two reasons to celebrate that day.

Gareth O'Brien celebrates with Grant Millington (number 10) after his drop goal secured Tigers' Cup win at Hull KR last year. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.Gareth O'Brien celebrates with Grant Millington (number 10) after his drop goal secured Tigers' Cup win at Hull KR last year. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
Gareth O'Brien celebrates with Grant Millington (number 10) after his drop goal secured Tigers' Cup win at Hull KR last year. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
Read More
Peter Smith’s Inside RL: Why Castleford Tigers are right to stand firm over crow...

Asked if he was tempted to suggest Gareth as a name for the new arrival, to celebrate O’Brien’s dramatic winner, Evalds insisted: “No.

“Gaz actually kept me out of the team when we were at Salford, so I wouldn’t be calling him Gareth!”

Evalds, a Cup runner-up with Salford in 2020 and Tigers last year, reckons there won’t be much between the teams again tonight.

Niall Evalds was a try scorer for Tigers in last week's win over Toulouse. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.Niall Evalds was a try scorer for Tigers in last week's win over Toulouse. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.
Niall Evalds was a try scorer for Tigers in last week's win over Toulouse. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I hope it won’t be as close this time, but it could be,” he predicted.

“Both teams are building a bit of form so it has got all the ingredients for a great Cup tie.

“They are a great side and they throw the ball around quite a lot.

“It will be tough for us as a team, but we are confident, with the adjustments we’ve made, we can challenge them as well.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Tigers are without former Rovers forward George Lawler, who is suspended, but Daniel Smith could return from the calf muscle injury which meant he missed last week’s win over Toulouse Olympique and Derrell Olpherts, Brad Hepi, James Clare and Alex Sutcliffe are also in contention for a call up.

Jordan Abdull is available for Rovers after an ear infection kept him out of their win over Warrington Wolves a week ago.

Ben Crooks, Dean Hadley, Will Dagger and Greg Richards are also included in the initial 21-man squad, but Tom Garratt (concussion) drops out.

Hull KR: from Coote, Crooks, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Abdull, Parcell, King, Hadley, Linnett, Storton, Litten, Sims, Minchella, Keinhorst, Dagger, Lewis, Milnes, Maher, Wood, Richards, Halton.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Castleford Tigers: Evalds, Olpherts, Turner, Mamo, Faraimo, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Edwards, Milner, Westerman, Massey, Griffin, Fonua, Hepi, Clare, Sutcliffe, Smith, Eden, Matagi, O’Brien.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham). Kick-off: Friday, 7.45pm.