York Valkyrie kicked off their 2023 campaign in emphatic style after beating reigning Betfred Women's Super League champions Leeds Rhinos 34-12 at Headingley Stadium.
A BWSL record crowd of 5,308 turned out for the competition's season opener in a rematch of last season's Grand Final, but the visitors silenced the home terraces with a clinical display.
Having seen the contest shift back and forth through the first half hour at 12-12, the Valkyrie went on to reel off 22 unanswered points to make a statement in their 2023 opener.
York went in front after just six minutes, courtesy of Tamzin Renouf. The England international touched down in the right corner following an inch-perfect grubber kick from captain Sinead Peach.
Tara Jane Stanley nailed the touchline conversion, the first of five successful kicks from seven attempts.
Despite the positive start, York found themselves down to 12 players as Jas Bell was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle.
Leeds made the most of the numerical advantage, Caitlin Beevers exposing a gap through the stretched defence before seeing Keara Bennett dart over from dummy-half. Sam Hulme, who finished with two conversions, added the extras.
The Valkyrie regained their lead five minutes after a sensational looping cut-out pass from Stanley put Ashleigh Hyde over the whitewash.
On the hour-hour, Eloise Hayward hit back for the Rhinos. A huge Beevers break saw the centre get from her own half to within inches of the Valkyrie try-line before Hayward finished a play later.
The visitors had the final laugh of the half though as Hollie-Mae Dodd capitalised on a short pass from Rhiannion Marshall close to the line. Stanley's conversion left York 18-12 up at the break.
Lindsay Anfield's side dominated in the second half and their scoring began when Liv Gale cut straight through the Leeds line before diving over to the left of the sticks.
York refused to take their foot off the gas as good hands from Marshall found Stanley, who burst to the right corner.
Stanley could not convert her own try but did add a penalty goal to her name with four minutes left.
The Valkyrie were not done there though, with ample time remaining for Ellie Hendry to stroll over from Sade Rihari's cut-out pass.
York: Stanley, Hendry, Renouf, Kershaw, Hyde, Hetherington, Gale, Wood, Peach, Bell, Owen, Andrade, Dodd
Subs (all used): Rihari, Staveley, Marshall, Field
18th Player: Whitehead
Tries: Renouf (6'), Hyde (17'), Dodd (36'), Gale (51'), Stanley (65'), Hendry (79')
Goals: Stanley (5/7)
Leeds: Nuttall, Hayward, Butcher, Beevers, Robinson, Casey, Hulme, Hornby, Bennett, Northrop, Hardcastle, Dainton, Hale
Subs: Anderson, Earnshaw-Cudjoe, Lockwood, Frain
18th Woman: Gaines
Tries: Bennett (12'), Hayward (28')
Goals: Hulme (2/2)
Referee: Ryan Cox