Saints Women put in dominant performance over the Giants

St.Helens Women earned their first league points of the Betfred Women’s Super League season in Round Two by beating Huddersfield Giants Women with a twelve-try, dominant, 60-6 win on Sunday afternoon (28th April).

The match also marked the first time in 2024 that the Saints Women took to the field for league action at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Matty Smith’s matchday squad included a 50th appearance in the Red V for Paige Travis, Luci McColm made her return, and a debut for Erin McDonald off the bench.

A first St.Helens drive to attack almost provided a dream start for Meg Williams but a solid initial hit from Huddersfield caused the ball to go loose. However, the Saints would not be denied for long.

Zoe Harris after missing out last week’s league opener was back in the halves and did a clever show and go, the Giants went looking for an intercept that would not come and Harris passed to Travis who moved downfield and fed the ball to Erin Stott for the opening points. Faye Gaskin on kicking duties added the first conversion of the afternoon, 6-0 after just four minutes.

Looking for a strong start the Saints on their next attack kicked a ball that was allowed to bounce, but bouncing in-goal and out gave the visitors some early respite and a seven-tackle set. However, Smith’s side fronted up in defence and kept control of the territory with strength.

Ten minutes into the game and after earning the right to play, Saints shaped up on the left edge and played it on the last, Nom Williams at loose forward fired out a great cut out pass to left centre Luci McColm who fed Leah Burke to race down the wing and into the corner for a classy Saints score. Gaskin’s second kick attempt bounced off the posts, 10-0.

Back-to-back scores followed with McColm marking her return with a four-pointer, Gaskin showing her calmness to delay a pass and give it to Luci for a big breakthrough into open field. The Giants raced to stop her, but the centre pushed away the last-ditch defence for our second try in the left corner. Gaskin’s kick attempt this time was just short of the posts for a 14-0 scoreline.

Giants managed to stop it being a real purple patch of points for the Red V, blocking a low kick but needing to come out of their own 10m area. Resolute defence would keep Huddersfield away from good ball position, as a reward on our next attack Meg Williams would drive close to the line but got wrapped up inches away from a score.

The left edge appeared to be firing on all cylinders throughout the game and Leah Burke would get her second try of the day, McColm again passing it to the winger for a crash into the corner once more. It was third time lucky for Gaskin from that left sideline with her adding the two points from distance, 20-0 with 22 minutes played.

Our dominance on the left continued, fullback Beri Salihi broke the line and fired an offload to McColm for her second try, again finished in the left corner. Gaskin added her third conversion for 26-0.

At the restart Huddersfield went for a short kick-off looking to get some rare ball in the opposing half and managed to recover it, but Saints looking to keep the pressure on would force Ana Da Silva to spill the ball as they attacked. Saints would then attack and from a high Gaskin kick to the corner Phoebe Hook caught the ball and on the spin out of a tackle scored in the right corner. Another sideline conversion for Gaskin this time on the right and she added the two, yielding a score of 32-0 with seven minutes to the break.

With moments left in the half Saints would get one more try, this time from forward Georgia Sutherland after breaking the line and sprinting half the length of the Totally Wicked Stadium field to go under the sticks. Gaskin made no mistake with her easiest kick of the day to that point, making it 38-0 as the teams went into the changing rooms.

The Giants needed to start the second half well and they did, Amelia Brown broke two tackles on the right edge and showed her incredible pace to race away and score Huddersfield’s first points in the game. Frankie Townend, the Giants half, added the conversion, 38-6 three minutes into the second period.

Our dominance in the first half and a chance for a break combined to see Huddersfield having a much brighter second half in the opening contests. Eagerness from the visiting side to stop the hosts though resulted in a kicked penalty to move out of own half, the Red V then with some second phase almost saw Hook go over for her second try, but she was short of the line.

Coming off their own line Da Silva spilled the ball, creating a chance for St.Helens from a scrum. A great scrum play worked the ball left, Salihi passed to Burke for her hat-trick score. Gaskin could not add the kick on this occasion, 42-6 it remained with 51 minutes played.

Following the initial warning shot from Huddersfield in the second stanza, Saints found their feet once more. Inside their own ten the Giants lost the ball, calmly the Red V pushed, and off the bench Tara Jones spotted a gap and a classic hooker’s scoot from dummy half saw her go over for a try. Gaskin’s kick attempt following Jones’ score was missed, 46-6, 55 minutes in.

Ahead of the hour mark, a high Gaskin bomb again landed into Hook’s hands, she managed to get an offload away to Travis who held onto it but was tackled to stop the threat for now. On the Saints’ next attack Gaskin would go for another high kick but this time it went to the left edge instead of the right. Burke timed her run to perfection to catch it well and score her fourth try in the corner! For the second time in the fixture, Gaskin’s kick goal attempt came off the post to deny her a touchline conversion, but Saints were up to the half-century, with 18 minutes left, 50-6.

Some much-needed attack in the hosts’ half created a chance for Giants, Brown tackling Burke in the in-goal area. However the visitors could not make the most of the rare chance to attack by our goal line and the pressure would be turned back on them shortly after.

Into the final ten minutes, Saints’ forwards drove their way to the Giants’ try line once more. Katie Mottershead, just as she did last week at York, made the most of a gap at dummy half to score near the posts. Half-back Gaskin added her sixth conversion of the afternoon, 56-6, with just under eight minutes left on the clock.

Saints would finish with a flourish, with the visitors retreating back towards their own goal line and the ball was worked to the right edge, back-rower Travis passed an easy ball to Erin Stott, our first try scorer of the game would also be our last to make it 60-6. Gaskin could not add the extras in the final major action of the game.

A dominant St.Helens performance in our first Betfred Women’s Super League home match of the 2024 season, with twelve tries scored over Huddersfield Giants!

Tickets for the Saints’ Semi-Final clash against York Valkyrie in Doncaster are available online now – click here for all the details.

Match Summary

St. Helens Women’s team: Beri Salihi, Phoebe Hook, Erin Stott, Luci McColm, Leah Burke, Zoe Harris, Faye Gaskin, Vicky Whitfield, Katie Mottershead, Darcy Stott, Paige Travis, Megan Williams, Nom Williams

Interchanges: Tara Jones, Pip Birchall, Georgia Sutherland, Erin McDonald

18th player: Rebecca Rotheram

Tries: Erin Stott (4, 71), Leah Burke (9, 21, 50, 62), Luci McColm (12, 27), Phoebe Hook (32), Tara Jones (54), Katie Mottershead (71)

Conversions: Faye Gaskin 6/12

Huddersfield Giants Women: Amy Bennett, Becky Grady, Ana Da Silva, Allana Walker, Amelia Brown, Frankie Townend, Sam Hulme, Ellie Oldroyd, Bethan Oates, Emma Wilkinson, Jess Harrap, Georgia Hampshaw, Katy Fisher

Interchanges: Grace Ramsden, Lauren Waller, Chloe Fairbank, Gracie Hobbs

18th player: Hannah Goddard

Tries: Amelia Brown (42)

Conversions: Frankie Townend 1/1

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