York City Knights Ladies were hit with Grand Final heartbreak after falling to rivals Leeds Rhinos in this afternoon’s Betfred Women’s Super League finale at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Heading over to Merseyside for the Knights’ first-ever Women’s Super League Grand Final, the team will have been full of confidence off the back of winning the League Leaders’ Shield already – a title secured with a final day victory over the Rhinos.
After proving her fitness in the Semi-Final victory over Wigan, winger Kelsey Gentles retained her place and lined up outside the returning centre Tamzin Renouf. Elisa Akpa started in the front row alongside Olivia Wood while barnstorming middle Jasmine Bell started on the bench.
Despite dominating field position and threatening most in the first forty, the Knights were scoreless at the interval with Leeds Rhinos’ centre Caitlin Beevers scoring the sole try with talismanic half-back Courtney Winfield-Hill converting to give the West Yorkshire side the lead at the break.
The Knights did look set to score before the hooter but full-back Tara Jane Stanley’s effort was pulled back for obstruction in the build up
England international Beevers – the winner of Sunday’s Player of the Match award – added a second Leeds score after the Rhinos forced a repeat set around the fifty minute mark. Winfield-Hill’s conversion gave the 2019 Grand Final winners a twelve point cushion and the expert half-back then sought to manage the game for the Rhinos.
Her efforts could have been interrupted when Sinead Peach – Knights co-captain and Woman of Steel nominee – scored the try of the game, breaking from dummy-half thirty metres out to cut through the Rhinos’ defence to score. Stanley couldn’t convert but, at 12-4, the Knights had a way back into the game.
Despite the best efforts, Lindsay Anfield’s team weren’t able to score any further points and the Rhinos closed out the latest encounter between the two sides, a rivalry that is growing with every match-up.
The Knights can reflect on this season with a huge amount of positivity after winning both the League Leaders’ Shield and the Women’s Nines title earlier in the campaign. A maiden Grand Final appearance was just reward for their dominance throughout the campaign and this defeat will only spur Anfield and her squad onto bigger things in 2023.
York City Knights Line-Up: Tara Jane Stanley, Kelsey Gentles, Tamzin Renouf, Katie Langan, Georgia Taylor, Georgie Hetherington, Olivia Gale, Olivia Wood, Sinead Peach, Elisa Akpa, Savannah Andrade, Hollie Dodd, Lacey Owen
Interchanges: Leila Bessahli, Jasmine Bell, Matilda Butler, Emma Kershaw
Tries: Peach (57‘)
Leeds Rhinos Line-Up: Fran Goldthorp, Tara Moxon, Hanna Butcher, Caitlin Beevers, Sophie Robinson, Sam Hulme, Courtney Winfield-Hill, Dannielle Anderson, Keara Bennett, Emma Lumley, Sophie Nuttall, Lucy Murray, Zoe Hornby
Interchanges: Jasmine Earnshaw-Cudjoe, Shannon Lacey, Beth Lockwood, Chloe Kerrigan
Tries: Beevers (8’, 50’)
Goals: Winfield-Hill (2/2)