Thunder draw Stags in Ladbrokes Challenge Cup

Newcastle Thunder’s 2018 adventure in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup will begin with a trip to Hemel Stags over the weekend of February 24/25 following the draw for the third round on Tuesday.

It will be the second meeting between the two teams this month after the Stags provided the opposition in Thunder’s final pre-season friendly, in a game where a young home side enjoyed a 28 – 16 win.

The Stags provided stern opposition in that match and with a number of familiar former Thunder players including Sonny Esslemont, Chris Heil, Ricky Hough and Louis Sherriff in the ranks, Jason Payne’s side will have to be at their best to extend their winning run at Pennine Way.

The date and kick-off time for the round three tie will be confirmed by the Stags in the coming days.

Speaking on the draw, Thunder head coach Jason Payne said: “It’s a shame we couldn’t get a home draw as we’ve got some serious traveling to do in the opening months of the season but that’s life.

“All in all, it should be a good game, we both know each other pretty well after our friendly a couple of weeks ago. Hemel threw some really good stuff at us and we struggled to contain them in the second half so you won’t see any complacency from us.

“We will be preparing for a very tough game and we will be taking a strong team down that we feel can get us through to the next round. They are a well-coached team with some very experienced players and I hope the Thunder fans can make the long trip and get behind us.”