Saints Women began their bid to defend the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup for a fourth successive season with a dominant home win over London Broncos Ladies in the opening match of the Group Stage!

Matty Smith’s Saints controlled most of the match and scored twelve tries in a strong and positive start to the 2024 Women’s Rugby League season.

It was a calm opening exchange by both sides trading sets then Saints got the first major chance to the match five minutes in. On the right-edge with Erin Stott looking to give an offload to her winger partner Phoebe Hook but the ball went out in touch.

Not long after that missed chance, the Red V challenged the Broncos again with skipper Jodie Cunningham running the ball into the line and finding a pass to long time teammate Emily Rudge who raced away to score Saints’ first try in the 2024 season. Half-back Amy Taylor began her kicking duties well adding the conversion for an early 6-0 lead.

Following the first points though, Saints made a number of errors whilst trying to open London up, such as Channy Crowl looked to make a big break but the ball spilled out after she got halted, gifting London their first attack in the opposition half, but Hook put in a strong shot to cause a Broncos error.

Crowl would not be stopped on her next go though, near the midway point of the first half the forward took in a pass not too far from the line and forced her way over a number of Broncos defenders. Taylor added her second kick for to extend Saints’ lead to 12-0.

Two more quickfire tries would follow, the first came in the shape of Faye Gaskin, Cunningham drove through the heart of the London defence on the restarting set and fed a smart offload to St.Helens’ #7 to burrow down to score next to the sticks. Amy Taylor added her third kick of the afternoon. The Saints’ fourth try almost came from Paige Travis who was held up short of the line but she got an offload worked out to Stott and the centre fed her winger for a plant down in the corner. Taylor from far out missed her first kick of the game for a 22-0 scoreline.

Erin Stott almost grabbed an assist and a try in a matter of moments too, but as she reached out off a Cunningham pass she was judged to have knocked on over the line. London tried wrestling some control back into the game for themselves but Saints stood strong cutting them down.

Just before the interval Hook grabbed her second try off a shift play to the right again, and the winger showed great strength to power over in the corner for a fifth try. Taylor could not add the conversion before the referee blew the whistle for the break and the team headed at 26-0.

The Saints continued their dominance early in the second half with Irish captain Pip Birchall grabbing her first ever try for the Club! A just reward for the forward who has been such a big part of our team for a number of years! Faye Gaskin took over kicking duties in the second half and added the kick on her first attempt, 32-0.

Ten minutes into the second act and off a scrum play Saints went down the short side and Zoe Harris on the move threw a dummy to go in and put the ball down. Gaskin followed it with her first missed kick, 36-0.

St.Helens’ eighth four-pointer of the fixture quickly came after, this time going to the left edge with Gaskin passing to Hannah Roberts to bulldoze her way into the corner. Gaskin added an impressive conversion from the wing for 42-0.

Before the hour mark Rudge made it a brace of tries for herself, Gaskin very much running the show saw the back-rower running a great line and fed her a pass. Emily held off some last ditch defence to get over and socre. Faye added her fourth kick, our sixth from nine attempt to that point, to nudge the score to 48-0.

Matty Smith’s side went past fifty with Phoebe Hook securing a hat-trick! The winger finished off some great second phase rugby, keeping the ball alive on the right edge, and Hook strolled into the corner. Gaskin again added the extras with an impressive kick, making it a 54-0 scoreline heading towards the final ten minutes.

Emily Rudge would join Phoebe Hook with a hat-trick of tries, the veteran broke the line and raced over in the left corner. Taylor returned to kicking but could not add the extras, 58-0 it remained.

Paige Travis deservedly grabbed a try to add her name to the score sheet in the final minutes of the match, Cunningham and Crowl linked up well in the middle of the field for Channy to get the Red V up the field, then passed to a supporting Travis to go under the posts. Taylor added her fifth conversion of the day for 64-0 in the final major act of the fixture.

A dominant performance from the Saints, that saw twelve tries scored!

Match Summary

St Helens Women team: Beri Salihi, Rebecca Rotheram, Hannah Roberts, Erin Stott, Phoebe Hook, Amy Taylor, Faye Gaskin, Channy Crowl, Tara Jones, Darcy Stott, Paige Travis, Emily Rudge, Jodie Cunningham

Interchanges: Zoe Harris, Megan Williams, Pip Birchall, Katie Mottershead

18th player: Alyx Bridge

Tries: Rudge x3 (7, 56, 73), Crowl (20), Gaskin (22), Hook x3 (25, 38, 63), Birchall (41), Harris (48), Roberts (51), Travis (76).

Conversions: Taylor 5/8, Gaskin 3/4

London Broncos Ladies team: Lauren Mueller, Becky Smart, Nicole Kennedy, Jemma King, Corin Burch, Katie Wallis, Courtney Treco, Ellie Hunt-Pain, Iona McCusker, Cat Moody, Rebecca Kemball, Beth McFarlane, Kathryn Salter

Interchanges: Blazejewski, Longdon-Hughes, McLauchlan, Mason

18th player: TBC

HT: 26-0

FT: 64-0