The two best sides in the women’s game over recent years were forced into a semi-final battle at Emerald Headingley as Leeds Rhinos took on St Helens for a place against York City Knights in the Grand Final in a fortnights time.
A place in the flagship event in the women’s game was up for grabs in a final which will be played at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens on the 18th September.
The two sides have met three times this season, Saints taking the honours on two occasions and the Rhinos with one win. The last meeting was at the start of last month when Saints ran out as 30/22 winners. Saints finished two points ahead of Leeds in the final league table and were favourites to pick up the win and make progress.
Saints had the best of the early exchanges and they looked to have opened the scoring on twelve minutes, but Emily Rudge had the ball dislodged by the knee of Emma Lumley in the act of scoring.
On eighteen Saints Shona Hoyle scooted from acting half back and lunged for the line but lost the ball in the act of scoring.
The deadlock was finally broken on twenty-five with a delightful ball from Rebecca Rotherham to Rachel Woosey who shrugged off a tackle and rounded behind the sticks to improve the angle. The conversion attempt from Beth Stott hit the far upright and bounced out, Saints up by 4-0.
Six minutes after the restart it was the Rhinos who registered the first points of the half with Zoe Harris finding Courtney Winfield-Hill who put Sophie Robinson over in the corner. Winfield-Hill´s kick dropped short of the sticks; the sides tied up at 4-4.
Just after the hour mark Saints edged back into the lead thanks to a thirty metres penalty from Stott.
Leeds hit the front on sixty-six with Robinson getting her second try of the afternoon as she took a pinpoint Wingfield-Hill cross field kick to walk over the line and ground. Once again, the kick was missed but the Rhinos had a two-point lead with just over ten minutes remaining.
With five seconds remining in the game, Zoe Hornby managed to find her way over the line as she muscled her way through half a dozen Saints tacklers. Winfield-Hill added the conversion for a final score of 14-6 to the Rhinos as they go through to face the York City Knights in the Grand Final. St Helens, the defending Champions, season was over at the hands of their greatest rivals.
St Helens: Rotherham, Burke, Hardcastle, Woosey (T), Partington, Harris, Stott (G), Hoyle, Jones, Rudge I, Travis, Rudge E, Crowl. Subs: Whitfield, Sandham, Williams, Roberts.
Leeds Rhinos: Goldthorp, Moxon, Butcher, Beevers, Robinson (2T), Hulme, Winfield-Hill (G), Anderson, Earnshaw-Cudjoe, Lumley, Murray, Nuttall, Hornby (T). Subs: McCallion, Lacey, Lockwood, Kerrigan.
Score Progression: 4-0 : HT : 4-4, 6-4, 6-8, 6-12, 6-14: FT.
Lead Exchanges: St Helens - Square – Saints - Leeds.