KEIGHLEY Albion Ladies hope to continue to thrive as underdogs when they battle in the Challenge Cup this weekend, according to team manager Sarah Lancaster.

Albion, who only reformed last winter after a seven-year hiatus, host fellow League One side Halifax in the second round of the Coral Women's Challenge Cup on Sunday, May 26 (2pm kick-off) at Crossflatts Cricket Club, Keighley Road, Bingley.

Lancaster's side advanced after a 26-22 home win over Hull FC in the first round earlier this month.

The second round has eight ties featuring the winners from the first round and the eight Super League teams.

Albion, previously named Keighley Cats, hope to compete in the Challenge Cup final at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday, July 27. This showpiece will be part of a triple header bill with the semi-finals of the men's Challenge Cup.

Their cup progression also continues a fine season for Albion who won the Women's Rugby League Association Plate last month, beating East Leeds Ladies 52-14 in the final.

Lancaster says Albion's close-knit squad with a mix of youth and experience is key to their success so far this season.

She said: "We're surprised to be in the second round.

"We are just underdogs at Albion. We are playing in front of crowds of 100-200 people for our home games. It is really good for women's rugby league.

"It's a big game against Halifax. It's a really good draw for us as most of the other teams left are from the Super League.

"We are top of League One, we haven't lost a game yet.

"We used to be Keighley Cats but we all disbanded seven years ago. Last year the girls did a couple of friendlies last year, but no-one wanted to play us.

"The key players for us are all in their 30s, they stopped for seven years, but have come back this year.

"We have all been friends, we've all got kids and been on holidays together, throughout 20-odd years.

"We want to progress the team in the future. We have two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old in our side.

"When I started 25 years ago there used to be lots of leagues, but it died a death around six years ago. But now the Super League have put a lot of money into the women's game and a lot of young girls now have something to aspire to do it./ The profile is raised and it's due to funding.

"We want to develop it at Albion so players can join us and we can get teams of 14 and 15-year-olds, so we can get the next generation at the club."

Albion's League One clash at Whitley Bay Barbarians on Sunday, June 2, has been postponed and will be re-arranged.

Keighley Albion Ladies team is open to all females from 16 years old. For information on the team and training, which takes place every Thursday between 6pm and 7.30pm at Crossflatts Cricket Club, email Lancaster at

Women's Challenge Cup second round fixtures: Thursday, May 23: Castleford Tigers v Featherstone Rovers (7pm). Sunday, May 26: Keighley Albion v Halifax; Barrow v Warrington Wolves; RAF Ladies v Bradford Bulls; Stanningley v St Helens;

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