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York Valkyrie 16-17 St Helens - Match Report


York Valkyrie saw their dreams of reaching Wembley Stadium ended following a dramatic 17-16 defeat to St Helens in the Betfred Women's Challenge Cup Semi-Finals at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.


Shona Hoyle's opportunistic try got St Helens off to the perfect start before York hit back through a long-range Tamzin Renouf score and Tara Jane Stanley's sprint to the right corner.


Lucinda McColm responded for Saints on the half-hour before Sinead Peach's dart out of first receiver sent the Valkyrie 14-10 in front at half-time.


Tara Jones gave the defending Betfred Women's Challenge Cup holders a two-point lead until Stanley's late penalty.


Heading into the final minute level, Faye Gaskin held her nerve to slot over a drop-goal, inflicting a first defeat of 2023 upon York and securing their place at Wembley Stadium next month.


The task ahead of York was never going to be easy, with the 2021 and 2022 Betfred Women's Challenge Cup winners taking the early initiative.


Hoyle capitalised on Liv Wood’s dropped catch to ground the loose ball, with Amy Taylor added the extras, her first of two conversions from three attempts.


The Valkyrie responded against the run of play - Jodie Cunningham’s pass finding the hands of Renouf, who raced over 70 metres to finish.


Stanley put York in front when accelerating into a gap at the right corner, although the full-back was unable to convert her own try nor Renouf's.


Back came the Saints, who took full advantage of a penalty, shifting the ball wide left to allow McColm to crash over.


Captain Peach was the chief instigator of the Valkyrie's fightback, bursting through some poor Saints defence and giving York a 14-10 lead at the break.


St Helens landed the first blow after the break with Jones touching down Taylor's kick against the post.


An set-for-set arm-wrestle ensued before York finally broke the deadlock with seven minutes left, Stanley holding her nerve to score a 35m penalty goal, levelling the scores at 16-16.


Both sides pushed for a late winner and it was Saints who found it, Gaskin delivering the one-pointer in the dying moments.


York: Stanley, Kershaw, Owen, Renouf, Hyde, Rihari, Gale, Field, Peach, Staveley, Wood, Andrade, Bell


Subs used: Marshall, Akpa. Subs not used: Sanderson, Taylor


Tries: Renouf (12'), Stanley (25'), Peach (34')


Goals: Stanley (2/4)


St Helens: Harris, Partington, McColm, Travis, Hook, Taylor, Gaskin, Stott, Jones, Crowl, Hoyle, Rudge, Cunningham


Subs (all used): Williams, Whitfield, Sams, Birchall


Tries: Hoyle (3), McColm (30), Jones (48)


Goals: Taylor (2/3)


Drop Goals: Gaskin (79')


Referee: Aaryn Golding-Belafonte


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