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Women's Challenge Cup

24 Apr 2022

Leeds Rhinos women book Cup final spot

Leeds Rhinos women book Cup final spot

Those in attendance at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium this afternoon saw a memorable Betfred Women's Challenge Cup clash in the first semi-final of the day. York City Knights and Leeds Rhinos put on a show as Leeds ran out 26-28 victors.

It was a perfect start for the Knights after a Tara-Jane Stanley try in the first minute, which she followed up with a superb effort to add the two points. Leeds were back in it soon after though, after Chloe Kerrigan found a gap in the York defence to get the Rhinos back on track.

York City Knights stretched their lead further after Grace Field collected a clever offload from Rhiannon Marshall, and Stanley made no mistake as she added another two points just before the 20-minute mark.

Rhinos' Chloe Kerrigan capitalised on the space she found out on the left when she ran through for her second try of the game, after a great spell of strong defence from York. Rhinos kept the pressure on and three tries within five minutes rounded off a dominant spell - an impressive end to the half for Leeds that saw them go in at the break with a 12-20 lead.

Stanley made it three from three conversion attempts to give the Knights a dream start to the second half after Sinead Peach's try in the opening stages, and York won a penalty soon after where Stanley made it 20-20 after maintaining her perfect conversion record with a difficult kick.

It wasn't level for long, as Leeds' Natasha Gaines found space out wide to restore the lead after a great attack following a scrum, and Winfield-Hill did the rest with a successful conversion.

Knights Prop Jasmine Bell found some space and got the try her performance deserved on the hour mark, whilst the ever-composed Stanley made it five from five to level the scores.

Leeds took the lead once again after Winfield-Hill kept her cool to convert a penalty with ten minutes to go, which ended up being just enough for the win after a frantic end to the game - the Rhinos had secured their place in their first Challenge Cup final since 2019.

Leeds Head Coach Lois Forsell reflected on a big win: "I'm really proud of the girls, some games you just have to get through it - and that was one of them. It's a sigh of relief, we need to do better but sometimes you just have to get to the end and the girls did that."

An outstanding performance from York's Tara-Jane Stanley saw her crowned Player of the Match, and Forsell was well aware of what she could bring to the game: "We mentioned her name in training a few times, and knew we'd have to keep an eye on her - she's an outstanding player and you always know she can cause you problems."

Player of the Match Stanley also spoke after the game: "There was a spell before half time where we just switched off, and they exploited that. We started well, things we worked on in training came off but like I said, we just switched off and were punished.

"The scoreline suggests we've been more composed than we have been in the past though, so we've got to take positives. The girls did well and now it's all about regrouping ahead of the Super League."