11th October 2019, 22:00 | womens_super_league
The two Yorkshire sides served up another thrilling spectacle in front of a Women’s Grand Final record crowd of 1,673 as Leeds Rhinos were crowned Champions at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night.
Castleford were handed the dream start as Amy Johnson coughed up the ball 20m from her own line. Leeds couldn’t withstand the early pressure as the Tigers had numbers on the right to see Maisie Lumb crash over in the corner to make it 4-0.
The League Leaders’ extended their lead further just moments later, this time Castleford running their numbers on the left. Georgia Roche came up just short before Lacey Owen found a way over after selling a convincing dummy. The conversion unsuccessful and it was 8-0 to the Tigers. The Rhinos grabbed one back though as the in-form Abby Eatock burst through the line, she had options left and right but ran it herself to cross the whitewash in the right corner for 8-4.
Sophie Nuttall looked to level things with half-time approaching but outstanding defence on the edge from Kelsey Gentles saw the winger forced into touch, denying Leeds the opportunity and seeing the opening forty out in Castleford’s favour.
It was a real arm wrestle start to the second half, Castleford not quite finding a way over for their third and Leeds struggling to break down the Tigers defence to get the levelling score. That was until Woman of Steel Courtney Hill stepped to provide some magic, throwing the dummy before getting the ball out to Fran Goldthorp to go over, another unsuccessful conversion meant it was all square at 8-8 with 25 minutes to go.
The Queens of the comeback, Leeds Rhinos, looked to be at it again as they scored two tries in quick succession. The first effort came from Fran Goldthorp who raced 50m to get the ball down, before Elle Frain latched onto a perfectly timed pass from Hill to ease over. Both efforts were converted by Hill and Leeds had the 20-8 advantage with 10 minutes to go.
The Tigers wouldn’t go down quietly, Kelsey Gentles was the next to cross the line with a fine effort in the far corner with the clock ticking down, but a third missed conversion from Stanley left too much for Castleford to do, the hooter confirming a 20-12 victory for Adam Cuthbertson’s Rhinos.
Leeds confirmed the domestic double as they made it a second win over the Tigers in a major final this year. Try-scorer Abby Eatock was overwhelmed by the result: “I’m feeling as though I won’t sleep for a good 24-hours, I’ve got so much adrenaline pumping through my body and I just can’t wait to celebrate now.”
“The Leeds girls have really taken me under their arm, I felt like one of their own after the first training session, they’re a great bunch of girls and I couldn’t wish to play with any other Super League team.”
She added: “The game went by so quick and you can’t let your head go. It was 8-4 to Cas’ at half-time, we were four points behind and we knew that wasn’t the end of the World for us. We just thought we need to crack on, get stuck in and we came out with the win.”
Caitlin Beevers, celebrating her 18thbirthday, reflected on a positive season for Women’s Rugby League: “Look at this year, every outcome was a surprise. Castleford won the League, Saints beat them and we’ve beaten them twice so you can’t ever predict Super League at this level, it’s been a good season.”
“I think if you look back at our Semis and our Finals, we tend to come back, so on big occasions we like to show our skill and I think that’s what we did tonight.”
Tries: Maisie Lumb, Lacey Owen, Kelsey Gentles
Goals: Tara-Jane Stanley 0/3
Tries: Abby Eatock, Fran Goldthorp (2), Elle Frain
Goals: Courtney Hill 2/4