York City Knights Ladies picked up their first piece of silverware this year last weekend, winning the RFL Women’s Nines Finals at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford with a victory over Leeds Rhinos clinching the trophy thanks to a piece of magic from England international Tara-Jane Stanley.
Sunday saw Lindsay Anfield’s side travel to the North-West as they looked to pick up the second piece of silverware on offer this season.
Having qualified for the finals back in May from a field of twenty teams, the Knights came up against Catalans Dragons and the Warrington Wolves in the Play-Offs with the top two sides from Group A and Group B qualifying for the semi-finals.
Game 1 – Catalans Dragons 8 – York City Knights 16
Catalans Dragons were the first opponents of the day as the weather conditions made for a perfect setting.
The Dragons took the lead in the opening minute with a driving run at the line but Hollie Dodd powered her way over the try line from short range after a break down the middle from full-back Stanley.
Katie Langan extended the Knights’ lead after making a bursting run down the right edge, racing thirty metres down the touchline to score and give her side a 4-8 lead.
Tamzin Renouf continued her fine try-scoring form, making a perfect run into space to make it 4-12 before Bettie Lambert added her name to the scoresheet.
The French side would score a consolation try close to full time as they created space and had the numbers to touch down and make the final score 8-16 to York.
Game 2 – York City Knights 37 – Warrington Wolves 0
Game Two saw Anfield’s side come up against Warrington Wolves and it proved to be an entertaining performance as the Knights scored seven tries to come away 37-0 winners.
Emma Kershaw scored the first try of the game with the ball being worked down the middle by Stanley before giving the newly-named England Knight the opening score.
Stanley then went from assisting to scoring the try of the match as she made a thirty-meter break downfield, cutting inside of a Wolves defender and touching down to make it 10-0.
Lacey Owen, Renouf and Dodd all found the try line before half-time with the Knights holding a 27-0 lead as the hooter sounded.
The momentum stayed with the Knights as Renouf crossed for two further tries before Olivia Wood adding her name to the scoresheet.
Semi-Final – York City Knights 26 – St Helens 0
York got off to the best start in the semi-final clash with Saints as Wood opened the scoring in the early moments.
Stanley continued to show why she is one of the best full-backs in rugby league, picking up the ball and making a full-length run of the field to score another bonus try for the Knights and increase their lead to 13-0 with the full-back converting both of the scores.
Running down the middle proved to be the Knights’ forte with a pass finding Olivia Gale who put on a burst of speed to find the try line and make it 18-0. Stanley’s conversion gave the Ladies a twenty-point lead at the break, already with one foot in the final.
Dodd continued to impress on the field as she powered her way over the whitewash with conditions getting worse to make it 24-0 after 16 minutes. Stanley’s conversion closed out the scoring and set up a final against the Rhinos – a team the Knights defeated at the LNER in the Betfred Women’s Super League earlier this year after Leeds’ Women’s Challenge Cup Semi-Final triumph weeks earlier.
Final – York City Knights 7 – Leeds Rhinos 0
Having conceded just eight points going into the final, the Knights looked strong heading into the big match.
Leeds headed into the final having won all of their matches, beating Huddersfield Giants 29-6 and St Helens 26-0 in the group stage before defeating Group B runners-up Catalans Dragons 23-7.
The opening seven minutes of the final were cagey with both defensive lines staying strong despite wet conditions now being the order of the day.
It was York, though, who found the breakthrough with star full-back Stanley who took advantage of space presented close to the line, delivering her trademark sidestep to score a bonus point try that she converted – the only points that the final would see.
As the final whistle sounded the Knights’ bench cleared with York celebrating becoming the inaugural RFL Women’s nines champions.