Successive defeats for St Helens ‘invincibles’ shows growing quality of women’s game

Defending RFL Women’s Super League champions Saist lost 20-18 defeat against atch-rivals Leeds Rhinos.

<p>Leeds Rhinos Women tackle St Helens in a curtain raiser to Thursday' Super League encounter between the two clubs. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.</p>

Leeds Rhinos Women tackle St Helens in a curtain raiser to Thursday' Super League encounter between the two clubs. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

Not too many months ago, Saints were being lauded as the invincibles of Women’ Super League - and deservedly so on the strength of their past record.

But as the growth of the ladies’ game continues, the gap between competing clubs now seems to be narrowing ever so slightly - and this can only be good for the general health and long-term future of the sport.

No doubt coach Derek Hardman will appreciate the development of the women’s game - but will have been bitterly disappointed by the manner his side toppled to a 20-18 defeat against deadly rivals Leeds Rhinos at the Totally Wicked Stadium last week and an unheard of second successive defeat.

At the same time, it could act as a wake-up call for the team and ensure complacency doesn’t creep into their game.

Fortunately, they don’t have many days to wait for their next fixture and a chance to get the setbacks out of their system - a home fixture against the Huddersfield Giants on Sunday, kick-off 2pm.

MATCH SUMMARY

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Saints women: Rotheram, Burke, Roberts, Hardcastle, Partington, Stott (B.), Harris, Crowl, Jones, Hoyle, Williams, Rudge, Cunningham.

Interchanges: Whitfield, Travis, Stott (D.), Woosey.

Tries: Cunningham (3 mins), Harris (18), Hardcastle ( 21), Jones (61). Conversions: Harris (1).

Leeds: Goldthorp, Hayward, Butcher, Beevers, Robinson, Roach, Winfield-Hill, Anderson, Bennett, Barnes, Kerrigan, Frain, Hornby.

Interchanges: McCallion, Cudjoe, Akwilkill, Nuttall.

Tries: Beever (27), Cudjoe (32), Goldthorp ( 42,78). Conversions: Winfield-Hill (2/4).

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Attendance: 1,440.