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16th June 2019, 17:00 | womens_rugby_league
Yorkshire produced a stunning comeback in the closing minutes of a compelling Roses clash to clinch a 2-0 success in the 2019 Women’s Super League Origin series.
Coming into the game on the back of a 14-8 win in the first Origin match at last month’s Betfred Championship Summer Bash in Blackpool, Yorkshire new they were in for another close encounter – and that’s exactly how things turned out.
Fittingly for a game played at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium this one went right down to the wire, with Lancashire overturning an early 10-4 deficit to lead 20-14 in the final quarter.
Lancashire coach Shaun Briscoe had predicted a close but more expansive game than the one at Blackpool, but even he couldn’t have foreseen the fabulous and frenetic opening exchanges which thrilled the 500-plus crowd.
Faye Gaskin’s kick off was spilled and within seconds Lancashire were in at the corner courtesy of Wigan’s Michelle Davis after Jodie Cunningham and Naomi Williams created space straight from the scrum.
Yet Lancashire themselves conceded possession straight from the restart, inviting Yorkshire to come straight back at them. The white rose quickly signalled their intentions with a wave of attacks which led finally to a fine try for Bradford’s Leah Jones. Rhiannon Marshall put her side in front with a towering touchline conversion and minutes later the impressive Amy Hardcastle crossed to put Yorkshire 10-4 ahead with only 10 minutes on the clock.
Lancashire’s Leah Burke was then denied only by a brilliant Caitlin Beevers cover tackle, but was not to be denied moments later as she crossed in the left corner to close the gap to just two points.
By now it was all Lancashire, with backrower Chantell Crowl almost creating another try for Burke with an ingenious chip over the on-rushing defence, while Kelsey Gentles stopped Naomi Williams in her tracks with a bone-crushing hit.
At the other end the ever-dangerous Amy Hardcastle was held up over the line by Tara Jones and Lucy Baggaley, and Yorkshire finished the half on top to lead 10-8 at half-timer.
And Yorkshire extended that lead immediately after the break, a strong run from Hardcastle creating havoc in the Lancashire defence before Kelsey Gentles finished well in the corner to give her side a 14-8 advantage.
The final score in Origin 1 had been reached with more than half an hour remaining and there were clearly more points to come. On 50 minutes Jodie Cunningham’s deft inside pass found Vanessa Temple running a cleverly angled line and Gaskin’s conversion brought Lancashire level at 14-14.
With Cunningham and Gaskin pulling the strings, Burke, Crowl and Temple offered a constant threat to a Yorkshire line which was finally breached by Rebecca Greenfield, only for the full back to be held up by Beevers.
Emotions were running high, tempers beginning to fray, fatigue was kicking and mistakes mounting as the game entered its final quarter. Something had to give – and when Lancashire’s outstanding Vicky Molyneux sped, stumbled then stretched her way over it seemed that it had.
Gaskin’s conversion gave Lancashire a 20-14 lead, but it didn’t last. Having failed to deal with the kick off, Lancashire were forced to drop out and from the very first tackle Savannah Andrade proved unstoppable on a powerful surge from dummy half, Marshall’s conversion drawing the scores level.
At 20-20 it could have gone either way, but reigning Woman of Steel, Castleford’s Georgia Roche, showed her mettle with a well taken field to nudge Yorkshire in front with only minutes remaining and in the dying seconds her club colleague Marshall pounced on a Red Rose error to finally put daylight between the sides.
“We went behind a couple of times but I’m proud of how we reacted to what Lancashire threw at us” said Yorkshire coach Lyndsay Anfield.
“Georgia and Rhiannon really stepped up at the end. Sinead Peach got us where we needed to be and they did the rest.”
Lancashire coach Shaun Briscoe was ‘gutted’ by the result but upbeat about what the game said about women’s Rugby League. “We didn’t get the result but the game itself was a massive positive for Rugby League. It’s been a great occasion.
“It was a scrappy start, then both teams settled down. We bombed a few chances and we’re disappointed to lose.
“We went 20-14 then switched off. It’s a learning curve.”
Rebecca Greenfield, Leah Burke, Naomi Williams, Charlotte Hill, Michelle Davis, Jodie Cunningham, Faye Gaskin, Amy Johnson, Tara Jones, Roxy Murdoch, Chantelle Crowl, Vanessa Temple, Vicky Molyneux, Sarah Lovejoy, Zoe Harris, Samantha Simpson, Lucy Baggaley
Tries: Davis, Burke, Temple, Molyneux
Goals: Gaskin 2
Leah Jones, Caitlin Beevers, Ashleigh Hyde, Amy Hardcastle, Kelsey Gentles, Georgia Roche, Danielle Bose, Grace Field, Sinead Peach, Shona Hoyle, Katie Hepworth, Charlotte Booth, Rhiannon Marshall,
Daisy Sanderson, Shannon Lacey, Tamzin Renouf, Savannah Andrade
Tries: Jones, Hardcastle, Gentles, Andrade, Marshall
Goals: Marshall 3
Field goal: Roche
Referee: Nick Bennett