Saints Women are into the Challenge Cup Final for the first time, after a 20-12 win over reigning champions Leeds and we will now face York City Knights at Leigh Sports Village on 5 June (11.15am).
REPORT FROM LNER STADIUM, YORK.
Saints came close early on, a break down the right was started by Carrie Roberts as she found Rachael Woosey with a great offload, she then ran half the length of the pitch, avoiding some tackles on the way, but was stopped inches short of the line as the Rhinos recovered well.
Fourteen minutes into the first half Leeds had a chance to take the first points of the game. After a high tackle on Courtney Winfield-Hill it was her who kicked a penalty from in front of the sticks to give the Rhinos a 2-0 lead.
Roberts then went close again for Saints with another break, but once again she was tackled as she looked set to give Saints the lead. Another chance went begging for Saints midway through the first half as Faye Gaskin looked to have given us the lead, but the referee said no try. Danielle Bush then crossed the try-line for Saints, but the touch judge said she had gone into touch on the left side.
Saints did finally get a try awarded in the 25th minute though. After forcing a Leeds error close to the line, we opted to throw a play down the short side and Carrie Roberts was able this time to force her way over and give us a well deserved lead. Faye Gaskin’s conversion attempt went narrowly wide, 4-2 Saints led.
Another Saints try followed three minute later. Faye Gaskin with a great show and go saw her break the Leeds line, she then found Amy Hardcastle on her outside and the centre crashed over from close range. Gaskin’s conversion was narrowly short, 8-2.
Both sides exchanged sets as the half came to a close, but neither were able to add anymore points, as Saints led 8-2 at the break.
The second period began as the first had ended, a tight tussle. Emily Rudge was close to increasing our lead with a big run down the middle but the Rhinos recovered well to stop her.
We did increase our lead in the 51st minute. A great flowing move from right to left saw Gaskin find Hardcastle, she then stepped the Leeds fullback Beevers and ran under the sticks. Gaskin converted the try, 14-2.
The Rhinos did respond though. A break from their own half saw Francesca Goldthorp step a few Saints defenders, before sprinting underneath the sticks to score. Winfield-Hill added the extras from in front of the sticks to make it a one-score game at 14-8.
Saints ensured that it would once again be a two score game in the 67th minute. A break from Tara Jones saw her find Roberts on her inside and she fended off two challenges on her way to stumble over the sticks. Gaskin converted, 20-8 Saints led. Roberts almost added another shortly after, but was bundled into touch just shy of the try-line.
Leeds pinched one from dummy half late on. Orla McCallion scoring it but Winfield-Hill hit the post with her conversion. And that is how it finished, as Saints avenged the two 2019 defeats to Leeds and reached the Challenge Cup final where we will face York City Knights who beat Castleford in the earlier semi-final.
𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐂𝐇𝐀𝐋𝐋𝐄𝐍𝐆𝐄 𝐂𝐔𝐏 𝐅𝐈𝐍𝐀𝐋 𝐅𝐄𝐄𝐋𝐈𝐍𝐆!
Well done, girls! 🔴⚪#COYS pic.twitter.com/P7eJdThAM0
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) May 22, 2021
Saints Team: Rebecca Rotheram, Danielle Bush, Carrie Roberts, Amy Hardcastle, Rachael Woosey, Beth Stott, Faye Gaskin, Chantelle Crowl, Tara Jones, Dawn Akrigg, Paige Travis, Emily Rudge, Jodie Cunningham.
Interchanges: Leah Burke, Isabelle Rudge, Naomi Williams, Pip Birchall
Tries: Carrie Roberts (25, 67), Amy Hardcastle (28, 51)
Conversions: Faye Gaskin (2 from 4)
Leeds Team: Caitlin Beevers, Tara Moxon, Francesca Goldthorp, Chloe Kerrigan, Sophie Robinson, Hannah Butcher, Courtney Winfield-Hill, Amy Johnson, Orla McCallion, Aimee Staveley, Elle Frain, Zoe Hornby
Interchanges: Samantha Hulme, Ella Johnson, Lucy Murray, Danika Priim
Tries: Francesca Goldthorp (57), Orla McCallion (79)
Conversions: Courtney Winfield-Hill (1 from 2)
Penalties: Courtney Winfield-Hill (1 from 1)
🔒 𝐋𝐎𝐂𝐊𝐄𝐃 𝐈𝐍!
🏆 Your @Betfred Women’s #ChallengeCup Final
⚔️ @YorkKnightsRLFC 🆚 @Saints1890 🔴 pic.twitter.com/E2GlhvTwch
— Betfred Challenge Cup (@TheChallengeCup) May 22, 2021