Honours were shared at Crusader Park, Thatto Heath when an 80th minute Katie Hepworth converted try drew Yorkshire level with old rivals Lancashire 22-22.
The goal sparked celebrations by the Yorkshire team and despair from the Lancashire side who will no doubt feel robbed of victory but the result was fair and reflected the closeness of the game throughout.
The lead changed hands several times, with no team really able to assert overall dominance, but the quality of rugby on show was reflected in the fact that most of the try scorers were outside backs, Lancashire prop Jenny Pendlebury bucking the trend.
Lancashire captain Jodie Cunningham, strong in defence and showing good positional sense throughout, was the game’s MVP.
Sarah Dunn (2) – a real threat all game and close to MVP honours herself – and Amy Hardcastle scored for Yorkshire swapping tries with Lancashire’s Pendlebury, Tara Jones and a stunning length of the field break-away try from Tara Stanley.
As the game drew to a close it looked like Lancashire would retain the trophy they won last season, but a one-on-one steal and score by Hepworth set up a dramatic finale, with the fullback keeping her nerve to draw the game and no doubt give Yorkshire the moral victory.
Yorkshire coach Mark Prescott: “I said in the lead up to the game that I was expecting a very tight and tough game, with maybe only one score in it. But I definitely didn’t predict such a dramatic finish with us tying the game with the last play. Katie Hepworth showed great composure under pressure to convert her own try, knowing the final whistle had already gone. Both teams should take enormous credit for what was a great advert for Women’s Rugby League.”
The earlier game saw a comprehensive victory for Yorkshire Under 18s, over a shell-shocked Lancashire side that had perhaps started as slight favourites. It’s an old adage to suggest ‘the score didn’t reflect the game’ but it is case with this match, the difference in the last hour of the game being just two scores.
The damage was done though by a blistering start by Yorkshire, who were 26 points up in the opening quarter of the game and, whilst Lancashire were very competitive for the final hour of the contest, there was no way of coming back against a resolute Yorkshire defence that simply refused to be breached.
Stand-off Lucy Eastwood took the MVP honours and was impressive throughout, gliding through the Lancashire defence seemingly every time she had the ball and playing a part in almost every score.
The County Origin Series event provided a fitting end to a 2015 Women’s RL season which has provided some intense contests in the recent Play Offs Series and Grand Finals Day and perhaps reflects the growing competitiveness in the women’s game. Roll on 2016.
Lancashire Women 22 – 22 Yorkshire Women
Lancashire Youth 0 – 34 Yorkshire Youth
Report courtesy of Women’s Rugby League