Agony for Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers in Women's Challenge Cup semi-finals
Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers both suffered semi-final disappointment in the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup double-header at York’s new community stadium.
Rhinos - Cup winners in the past two seasons - were beaten 20-12 by St Helens and Castleford, the 2018 and 2019 runners-up, lost 32-4 to York City Knights.
Leeds battled hard in the final 40, but paid the price for an error-ridden first half display.
Rhinos were on the back foot for most of the opening half and it took a world-class tackle from Tara Moxon, dashing across from the opposite flank, to deny Saints winger Rachael Woosey a try early on.
The holders opened the scoring when Courtney Winfield-Hill landed a penalty goal after 15 minutes, but Saints ran in back-to-back tries, through Carrie Rioberts and Faye Gaskin, to take an 8-2 lead into the break.
Saints took a firm grip on the game when Hardcastle extended their lead after a flowing move 13 minutes into the second half, Faye Gaskin adding the extras.
A brilliant try from Fran Goldthorp, who raced clear from Hannah Butcher’s blindside pass, got Leeds back into it on the hour.
Winfield-Hill’s conversion made it a six-point game, but Roberts stormed through the middle for a crucial try, improved by Gaskin and though Orla McCallion went over for a close-range consolation try in the final moments, Saints held on for a deserved win.
Tigers, beaten by Leeds in the past two Challenge Cup finals, crashed out to a York side including five of their former players.
Kelsey Gentles, Tamzin Renouf, Rhiannion Marshall, Sinead Peach and Grace Feld joined York from Tigers just two weeks ago, reuniting with their former coach Lindsay Anfield who is now York’s director of women’s rugby.
York went ahead through Savannah Andrade after 10 minutes.
Tata Stanley halved the deficit with a penalty goal soon afterwards, but Katie Langan, Gentles and Andrade all crossed before the break, with Marshall adding two conversions to make it 20-2.
Andrade completed her hat-trick early in the second half, Marshall converting and then adding Knights’ fifth try, which Ellie Hendry improved, five minutes from time.
Stanley booted a late penalty goal to complete the scoring.
York will meet Saints in the final at Leigh - in a curtain-raiser to the men’s semi-finals - on Saturday, June 5.
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