St Helens win Women’s Challenge Cup Final in thrilling advert for the game

Saints, who won every trophy on offer last year, had to work their socks off before overcoming a resilient Leeds Rhinos 18-8.

<p>St Helens lift the Women’s Challenge Cup.</p>

St Helens lift the Women’s Challenge Cup.

The real winner of a thrill-a-minute Betfred Women’s Rugby League Challenge Cup Final between holders St Helens and Leeds Rhinos was the sport itself.

The women’s game has come on by leaps and bounds in the last few years and the presence of the BBC cameras to capture the action live will only serve as a reminder to spectators in a 5,000-plus record crowd at Elland Road on Saturday and TV viewers what a quality product it is becoming.

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Saints’ veteran forward Kyle Amor, who was part of the commentary team, hit the nail on the head when he declared: “What a great advertisement it turned out to be for the women’s game and something we can build on.’’

It will also help boost the men’s equivalent in a year when the World Cup is staged on our shores.

Saints, who won every trophy on offer last year and looked light years ahead of any rivals, had to work their socks off before overcoming a resilient Rhinos’ outfit 18-8.

They were rocked back on their heels when conceding an early try - the first in the competition during 2022 - but eventually stamped their authority on proceedings, inspired by vastly experienced skipper Jodie Cunningham.

Cunningham said: “Leeds threw everything at us early on and we had to battle hard to get the right result, helped by the amount of work we had done beforehand.”

Arguably the key moment came in the second half when the scores were locked at 8-8.

Leeds were awarded a far from difficult penalty but Courtney Winfield-Hill fluffed the chance and was made to pay a heavy price - Cunningham crossing the whitewash at the other end within the blink of an eye to put the holders into a lead they rarely looked surrendering.

Teams

Leeds: Francesca Goldthorp, Natasha Gaines, Hanna Butcher, Caitlin Beevers, Samantha Hulme, Georgia Roche, Courtney Winfield-Hill, Danielle Anderson, Keara Bennett, Aimee Staveley, Chloe Kerrigan, Elychia Watson, Zoe Hornby.

Interchanges: Emma Lumley, Shannon Lacey, Orla McCallion, Alexandra Barnes.

Tries: Zoe Hornby (15)

Conversions: Courtney Winfield-Hill (1/1)

Penalties: Winfield-Hill (1/2)

Saints: Rebecca Rotheram, Leah Burke, Carrie Roberts, Amy Hardcastle, Eboni Partington, Zoe Harris, Beth Stott, Isabelle Rudge, Tara Jones, Chantelle Crowl, Naomi Williams, Paige Travis, Jodie Cunningham.

Interchanges: Alice Sandham, Emily Rudge, Victoria Whitfield, Rachael Woosey.

Tries: Leah Burke (34), Eboni Partington (49, 78), Jodie Cunningham (64).

Conversions: Beth Stott (1/4).

HT: 8-4.

FT: 8-18.