After taking the scalp of St Helens in last weeks semi-final, the Leeds Rhinos Women joined the York City Knights Women on a journey over the Pennines to the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens for the 2022 Women´s Super League Grand Final.
It was the fourth season in a row that Leeds had made it to the Grand Final, having won on one of the three previous occasions, losing out to St Helens in 2021 on their last attempt. By contrast it was York´s first appearance in the showpiece event after topping the league table and being defeated just once in this year’s campaign.
The City Knights were slight favourites for the win with the bookies but there was little to choose between two great sides in the competition.
Brilliant Leeds defence stopped Katie Langan from opening the scoring with just three minutes on the clock as York went for a powerplay down the left wing but York were making the metres with far too much ease.
Against the run of play it was the Rhinos who took the lead on six minutes with Caitlin Beevers stepping off her left foot after taking a Courtney Winfield-Hill pass to open a gap and dive over. Winfield-Hill drifted her conversion between the uprights for a 6-0 lead.
Despite the Rhinos lead it was one way traffic and Leeds quickly found themselves defending again. York had plenty of opportunities deep inside the Leeds half but lacks the composure to finish with poor final balls betraying a degree of big match nerves.
The Rhinos lost Shannon Lacey within minutes of the restart, after a lengthy stoppage in play, with a nasty looking injury.
The Rhinos extended their lead on fifty minutes when Caitlin Beevers threw the dummy and stepped off her left foot to go in from ten metres for her second try of the afternoon. Wingfield-Hill added the conversion for a 12-0 Rhinos lead.
A terrific solo try from Sinead Peach, running in from thirty metres with a long range scoot from dummy half, finally registered the first points for the York City Knights. Tara Jane Stanley was wide with a simple looking conversion and with twenty-two minutes remaining York still had to score another two tries.
York were revitalised and once again took the game to Leeds.
The City Knights were throwing everything at their opponents as the clock ticked towards a Leeds win but the Rhinos defence held firm.
A couple of panic set endings for York blew chances close to the Leeds line in the closing stages, the Rhinos holding on to secure their second Grand Final win and take the biggest prize in the game in 2022. It had been a stunning performance from the underdogs, the Leeds women putting in an awesome defensive effort to pick up the win.
York City Knights: Stanley, Taylor, Renouf, Langan, Gentles, Gale, Hetherington, Akpa, Wood, Peach (T), Andrade, Dodd, Owen. Subs: Kershaw, Bessahli, Bell, Butler.
Leeds Rhinos: Goldthorp, Moxon, Butcher, Beevers (2T), Robinson, Hulme, Winfield-Hill (2G), Anderson, Bennett, Lumley, Murray, Nuttall, Hornby. Subs: Earnshaw-Cudjoe, Lacey, Lockwood, Kerrigan.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6 : HT : 0-10, 0-12, 4-12: FT.
Lead Exchanges: Leeds.
Referee: Michael Smaill.