The Women’s Super League Final will be contested by the familiar names of Ste Helens and Leeds Rhinos in two weeks’ time after a double header of contrasting semi-finals.
York scored first in the second semi at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens when Olivia Wood crossed the Leeds line for a 4-0 lead on four minutes. Emma Hardy successfully kicked the conversion to give the City Knights a 6-0 score.
Eight minutes later Hardy turned ball carrier and cruised through the line to score in the corner, but this time she couldn’t kick the extras and Leeds trailed 10-0.
Leeds made sure they didn’t have things their own way though with a Hannah Butcher kick to the corner where Tasha Gaines grounded the ball. But without a successful conversion, the score was now 10-4 to York.
After an arm-wrestle 20 minutes played largely in the middle third of the pitch it was Kelsey Gentles swooped on a loose pass-back after a York break upfield and dotted the ball down on the line.
Hardy couldn’t convert and York had a 10-point lead with 10 minutes of the half to go at 14-4 – which is where the score stayed until the hooter signalled the break.
It took 10 minutes of the second half for Leeds Captain Courtney Winfield-Hill to move the scoring racing down the line from half-way to touch down and convert her own try to narrow the gap at 14-10 to York.
Leeds levelled the scores at 14 apiece after adventurous play at the end of a set which seemed to be going nowhere, but two kicks and a chip over the top saw the ball end up with Winfield-Hill, who offloaded from the tackle and Leeds supporting players moved the ball to the left where it landed in the hands of Sophie Nuttal who had a simple dive over to score.
The captain couldn’t kick the conversion though and the game was tied up with just over 20 to go.
Nuttal then made it back-to-back tries when she beat the defence on the outside and cut back inside to score under the posts and put Leeds in front for the first time at 18-14 on 65 minutes.
At the second time of asking, Winfield-Hill’s conversion from in front made it 20-14.
But York struck back immediately when the Leeds defence melted away in front of Emma Hardy and she took here turn to score under the posts – but failed to convert despite giving herself the easiest of kicks.
When they got a penalty in front of the posts with less than 10 minutes to go Leeds seized the opportunity to kick and Winffield-Hill extended the lead to 22-18.
And although Leeds’ Sophie Robinson was held-up over the line in th last minutes, that’s where the game finished.
Leeds Rhinos Women: Beevers, Gaines (T), Goldthorp, Robinson, Nutta (2T)l; Butcher, Winfield-Hill (T, 2G, P), l; Stavley, Hulme, Lockwood, Kerrigan, Frain, McCAllion. Replacements: Bennett, Hayward, Priim, Hornby.
York City Knights Ladies: Hetherington, Gentles (T), Renouf, Andrade, Hyde, Hnardy (G, 2T), Langan, Field, Peach, Hendry, Kershaw, Wood (T), Marshall. Replacements: Tiplady, Saderson, Stimpson, Clayton.
Referee: Ashley Moore
Half Time: 4-14.
Full Time: 22-18.
Score progression: 0-0, 0-4, 0-6, 0-10, 4-10, 4-14. Half Time. 10-14 , 14-14, 18-14, 20-14, 20-18, 22-18
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens.