16th April 2018, 12:17 | womens_rugby_league
Leeds Rhinos made a perfect start to life in the Women's Super League as they toppled reigning champions Bradford Bulls 32-16 at Odsal Stadium on Sunday.
A healthy crowd welcomed both sides but is was Adam Cuthbertson's side who flew out of the blocks in their first-ever competitive match as Rhiannon Marshall powered over from close range before converting her own try to make it 6-0 to Leeds after five minutes.
The Rhinos' lead was quickly doubled as former Bull Lois Forsell crossed beneath the sticks, Marshall with the extras.
Forsell grabbed her second shortly after as Leeds turned the screw, Marshall making it three from three with the boot, before Suze Hill crashed over on the right to make it 22-0 after just 25 minutes.
The shell-shocked Bulls gave themselves a lifeline late in the first half as Leah Jones crossed out wide, Claire Garner nailing the touchline conversion.
A groundbreaking day for Women's Rugby League 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yJd1gVoFfw— Rugby Football League (@TheRFL) 15 April 2018
Then England star Amy Hardcastle stormed in as the Bulls finally began to enjoy some field position, Garner again goaling from a difficult angle to make it 22-12 at half time.
A defensive battle ensued in the opening stages of the second period as Leeds stood firm in the face of some relentless Bradford attack.
And when they carved open a chance, they took it - Amy Johnson darting in before Marshall's goal to give the Rhinos some breathing space.
Bradford turned up the heat as they looked to get back into the game, but the Leeds defence refused to be beaten, while Sophie Robinson fielded a number of high kicks, as the visitors' 16-point lead stayed intact.
Though Kirsty Moroney's quick thinking from acting half back gave the Bulls some hope, it was Leeds who had the final say as Charlotte Booth returned from the bench to round off the scoring and condemn Bradford to their first defeat since the 2016 Grand Final.
Wigan Warriors top the early Women's Super League table thanks to a stunning 54-0 demolition of Featherstone Rovers.
The Warriors were making their competitive debut at the weekend but made light work of last year's Challenge Cup runners up and and Super League grand finalists as they ran in ten tries.
Kate McMullan scored the Warriors' first try, before Vanessa Temple bagged a quickfire double either side of the half hour mark, Michelle Davis converting both for a 16-0 lead.
Sarah Harrison then scored just before half time, Davis adding the goal to make it 22-0 at the break.
The impressive Greenfield scored soon after the restart as Wigan pulled well clear, Davis then goaled Rachel Thompson's try to make it 32-0 with half an hour to play.
Thompson scored again, before Georgia Wilson then went in, Davis converting both tries.
She kicked a penalty for 50-0 on 76 minutes, before Sarah Harrison's try rounded off the scoring.
Faye Gaskin and Leah Burke both scored hat tricks as St Helens began their Super League campaign with a 40-0 win over York City Knights.
The game was abandoned midway through the second half due to a second serious injury.
Faye Gaskin scored Saints Women's first ever try on five minutes and her side didn't look back in front of a healthy crowd at Ruskin Sports Village.
Leah Burke quickly followed up with her first before Naomi Williams scored.
Today was pretty special and we created history, first win in the @Saints1890 shirt and a fantastic turn out from our fans to support us... disappointing with my kicking but an excellent team win, time to go again next week ⚪️🔴. pic.twitter.com/v10d0i5LoD— Faye. (@FayeGaskin) 15 April 2018
Burke then notched her first second before Gaskin grabbed a quickfire double to complete her hat trick as Saints led 30-0 at half time.
The second half saw the game stopped for a significant period after Pip Birchall went down injured.
She was taken to hospital by ambulance but all indications suggest it isn’t as bad as was first feared.
Saints women’s game is halted as they lead 40-0 against York. There has been another serious looking injury, this time to a York player and the ref has taken the decision to abandon the game.— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) 15 April 2018
It took the best part of an hour for the game to recommence and when it did, Williams went in for her second before Leah Burke completed her own treble, Gaskin converting her fourth of the afternoon for 40-0.
Sadly, the game was then sensibly abandoned by the official after another serious injury, this time to a York City Knights player.
Barrow picked up a hard-earned 26-20 win over Wigan St Pats in the Women's Championship, while 2016 Challenge Cup finalists Leigh Miners Rangers were 28-20 winners at home to Widnes Vikings, who handed debuts to a host of local talent.
And Wakefield Trinity were in fine form - claiming a 40-10 victory over debutants Hull FC.