4th October 2019, 13:26 | womens_super_league
Sunday is semi-finals day in the Betfred Women’s Super League, with the top four sides competing for a place in next Friday’s Grand Final at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium.
Second-placed St Helens take on third-placed Leeds Rhinos in a repeat of July’s gripping Coral Challenge Cup encounter at the same stadium, which saw the Rhinos defeat their hosts 16-10 thanks to a fabulous length-of-the-field try from full-back Caitlin Beevers.
St Helens have won and drawn against Leeds in the league since then and go into the game on the back of a confidence-boosting win over the previously undefeated league leaders Castleford. Utility player Jodie Cunningham was outstanding as Saints toppled the Tigers and the Rhinos will have to keep a close watch on the England international if they are to avoid a similar fate.
“Jodie Cunningham stands out wherever she’s playing, we’ll really have to watch here” cautioned Leeds Rhinos’ injured star Sophie Robinson. “St Helens are really strong everywhere. We’re both playing at a similar level so it should be a good game.”
“We’re level pegging in 2019 with a win each and a draw” said Jodie Cunningham, “but that Challenge Cup defeat hurt and none of us wants to experience that feeling again. That’s our motivation.”
With a healthy sprinkling of internationals on both sides, including Telegraph Woman of Steel nominees Courtney Hill (Leeds) and Emily Rudge (St Helens), the match promises to be another classic. It will be shown live on Our League from 1pm.
If Saints-Leeds is too close to call, home advantage means that Castleford go into their game against Wigan Warriors as clear favourites – despite that defeat 14-20 reversal at St Helens last week.
A third Telegraph Woman of Steel contender, Kelsey Gentles, and last year’s Woman of Steel, Georgia Roche, will be in the Tigresses’ ranks as they attempt to reach their second final of the season following Challenge Cup Final heartbreak at the hands of Leeds Rhinos.
Undefeated at home in all competitions, Castleford are aiming to break their own attendance record for a standalone women’s rugby league game in this country and attract even more spectators to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle than the 1,492 fans who saw them beat Bradford Bulls in the Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Wigan finished the season in fourth place – perhaps a fair reflection on a regular season during which the defending champions lost more matches than they won. Like their opponents Castleford, the Warriors also suffered defeat last week – a 16-0 shut-out at fellow semi-finalists Leeds. Nevertheless, Wigan have enough big game experience in their ranks to give the youngest team in the Women’s Super League plenty to think about.
The Betfred Women’s Super League Final takes place at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, on Friday 11 October (kick off 7.30pm). Tickets, priced £5 (adults) and £1 (under 16s) are available online now.