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In a repeat of the last two Women’s Challenge Cup Finals, holders St Helens took on the Leeds Rhinos at Wembley Stadium with the Blue & Amber hoping to stop four consecutive wins for the Red Vee and win the trophy for the first time since 2019.

Between them, these two sides have won the last five finals, and St Helens were the strong favourites to get another win for the Totally Wicked Stadium trophy cabinet, but Leeds had the hurt of the last two seasons to draw upon for motivation.

Saints won the league encounter in round four by a narrow margin of 12-6, all indications were that this would be equally as close.

A Beri Salihi knock on after five minutes, on her own ten, gifted the Rhinos an early chance to open the scoring but calm and collected Saints defence defended their line.

Leeds came close on fourteen with Liv Whitehead fumbling the ball on the Saints line as she tried to ground a loose ball after confusion in the defensive line. Leeds were camped on the Saints line but a swarming defensive effort again thwarted their attack.

Against the run of play, and after receiving their first penalty of the game, Faye Gaskin crashed over the Rhinos defence to ground the ball by the right upright after dummying off both feet. She added the conversion herself for a 6-0 lead the Rhinos stunned that they had been punished by the Saints first foray into their twenty.

Fast hands from left to right saw Saints in again on the half hour mark with Phoebe Hook going over in the corner after rounding the Rhinos winger. Gaskin’s conversion attempt was just short, Saints with a 10-0 lead after defending their own line for twenty-five and then hitting the Rhinos with a double-whammy.

Five minutes after the restart Saints edged the game beyond the Rhinos reach when Luci McColm slid over the line on her backside and forced the ball onto the ground for the third try of the afternoon. Gaskin found the target from wide for 16-0.

Try as they might the Rhinos simply couldn’t break down the St Helens awesome defence and errors started to creep in as they looked to push their luck to get on the board.

The fourth Saints try came on seventy minutes with Chantelle Crowl going over the top of the Leeds tacklers to ground under the sticks. Gaskin was on target for the third time on the afternoon for 22-0, a comprehensive win.

It was a fourth consecutive Challenge Cup win for St Helens who have made the competition their own, in the way that Wigan Warriors did in the men’s game throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s. The victory was built on a phenomenal defence and taking their opportunities where they could on the break. Another year of heartbreak for the Rhinos, ever the bridesmaid and never the bride, but congratulations to Saints who dominated the game.

Leeds Rhinos: Enright, Whitehead, Beevers, Hardcastle, Cousins, Butcher, Casey, Field, Bennett, Northrop, Murray, Hoyle, Sykes.  Subs: Robinson, Hornby, Dainton, Donnelly. 18th Man: Greening.

St Helens: Salihi, Hook (T), Stott E, McColm (T), Burke, Harris, Gaskin (T, 3/4 G), Whitfield, Jones, Crowl (T), Travis, Rudge, Cunningham. Subs: Williams, Stott D, Sutherland, Mottershead. 18th Man: Birchall. 

Half-Time: 0-10.

Full-Time: 0-22.

Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 0-10 :HT: 0-14, 0-16, 0-20, 0-22 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: St Helens.

Referee: Aaron Moore.  



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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 8th Jun 2024 1:29 PM | Views : 2170 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES