In a tightly fought low scoring game Leeds Rhinos had just enough to retain the Challenge Cup and run out winners against Castleford Tigers by 16 points to 10.
In front of a record crowd of 4,000 at the University of Bolton Stadium Castleford opened the scoring after 17 minutes when Rhiannon Marshall spotted a gap and dotted down in the corner, the conversion was missed but Castleford, the dominant team this season, were in the lead by 4-0.
Rhinos were back in the game shortly afterwards as Fran Goldthorp collected a cross-field kick from player of the match Courtney Hill to bring the scores to 4-4, Hill’s conversion was accurate and Rhinos took a narrow lead 4-6.
As Rhinos gathered momentum from the try, 17 year old Caitlin Beevers finished off an individual move and scored in the corner. 4-10
Tigers weren’t done and hit back through Tamzin Renouf who ran onto a pass and scored between the posts, Tara Stanley’s conversion was on target and the scores were level at 10-10.
Honours were equal in the second half until Dannielle Anderson broke through, found Courtney Hill with a neat pass and Hill roared through to score the winning try. She then stepped up to make the conversion and give the Rhinos the lead at 10-16 with a quarter left to play.
It was the first loss of the year for Tigers who were unable to break a determined Rhinos defence, as they held out for the win and the honour of keeping the trophy for the second year in a row.
Most importantly, the game was a well fought, evenly balanced advert for women’s rugby league, in front of a record crowd and gaining unprecedented coverage. Interest in women’s rugby league is growing at all levels and the extra attention can only attract more players and better attendances.
Tries: F.Goldthorp, C.Beevers, C.Hill
Goals: C.Hill 2
Tries: R.Marshall, T.Renouf
Goals: T.Stanley 1