The game was broadcast live on BBC Two which was a first for a Women’s Rugby League clash and the weather certainly didn’t disappoint on a red-hot day in Leigh.
Saints were looing for a ‘red-hot’ start, but it was York who started the Final stronger. They were held up over the line and forced the Saints to dropout twice within the opening five minutes.
But Saints class told on the 15th minute mark. A great cut-out pass by Faye Gaskin found Danielle Bush, who scored in the left corner. Beth Stott’s conversion from the left touchline went narrowly wide, 4-0 Saints led.
We extended our lead five minutes later. Saints kept the ball alive and worked it to the right wing, Rachael Woosey then used her pace to score in the corner. Stott’s conversion missed, 8-0 Saints led halfway through the first half.
Saints almost had their third try a few minutes later. Stott kicked high to the right corner, but Woosey dropped the ball under pressure.
Player of the Match Emily Rudge then scored a great solo try. Jodie Cunningham fed her the ball just inside the York half, she then ran to the York ten metre line, before holding off Kelsey Gentles and scoring under the sticks. Stott converted, 14-0.
Another try followed three minutes later as Saints began to run away with the Final. Cunningham involved again, as she found the impressive Amy Hardcastle on her outside and she ran over 60 metres for our fourth try of the half. Stott added the extras, as Saints led 20-0 at the break in the Challenge Cup Final.
York did respond eight minutes into the second half. After three close calls on the Saints line, Sinead Peach was the first to react to a loose ball to give the Yorkshire side a lifeline. Rhiannon Marshall converted, 20-6 Saints led.
Saints reacted well. Emily Rudge collected a York kick and broke 50 metres downfield. Towards the end of the set Cunningham found Woosey on the right wing and she slid in for her second try of the game. Stott missed the conversion, 24-6 Saints led. Another try quickly followed for the Saints. Carrie Roberts with a strong run down the right touchline and she forced her way over in the right corner. The kick went wide, as Saints led 28-6.
Another try followed for the Saints. Paige Travis went for a run close to the line and, after a video referee review, the try was awarded. Stott added the extras, 34-6.
And 34-6 is how it finished, as the Saints were crowned Challenge Cup Champions for the first time in the Club’s history!
Saints Team: Rebecca Rotheram, Rachael Woosey, Carrie Roberts, Amy Hardcastle, Danielle Bush, Beth Stott, Faye Gaskin, Dawn Akrigg, Tara Jones, Chantelle Crowl, Paige Travis, Emily Rudge, Jodie Cunningham
Interchanges: Isabelle Rudge, Pip Birchall, Leah Burke, Naomi Williams
Tries: Danielle Bush (15), Rachael Woosey (20, 51), Emily Rudge (34), Amy Hardcastle (37), Carrie Roberts (58), Paige Travis (68)
Conversions: Beth Stott (3 from 7)
York City Knights Team: Emma Hardy, Kelsey Gentles, Tamzin Renouf, Savannah Andrade, Bettie Lambert, Rhiannon Marshall, Katie Langan, Grace Field, Sinead Peach, Alisha Clayton, Olivia Wood, Daisy Sanderson, Ellie Hendry.
Interchanges: Elspeth Innes, Emily Farrow, Ash Hyde, Alex Stimpson
Tries: Sinead Peach (48)
Conversions: Rhiannon Marshall (1 from 1)