CASTLEFORD TIGERS will go into today’s Women’s Challenge Cup final as underdogs, but coach Lindsay Anfield reckons they can spring a surprise.
Tigers face Leeds Rhinos at Warrington Wolves’ HJ Stadium (3pm) with both clubs bidding to win their first major trophy.
Tigers were founder members of Women’s Super League last year and are fourth in the expanded seven-team competition this season with four wins and a draw from their seven games so far.
Today’s final is the biggest match in the team’s history and Anfield, a former England player, said: “It’s exciting – we have done well just to get there and a good performance will be a bonus, but we can win.”
Rhinos are top of the table, but Anfield is confident Tigers have the players to upset the odds.
“I don’t think we’ve had one solid performance this season, but we’ve had some good results,” she added.
“If we put it all together and have two good halves, we can definitely do it.
“We are happy to be the underdogs, that’s probably the best way to go.”
Leeds won 40-12 when the teams met at Headingley in May, but Castleford were 24-8 victors in a pre-season game two months earlier.
Anfield believes, having played at the Jungle this year, her team will not be daunted by the prospect of running out at a Super League stadium, but the occasion will be a valuable experience for what is a young and inexperienced Castleford side.
“The girls have been training really hard and we’ve put a good game plan together,” she added.
“We’ve done a lot of homework and if we stick to it we can do the business, but with 10 of the 17 being under-18s it is whether they can handle the pressure and the event.
“Being in the final is good for the club and the future of what we are trying to do.
“This is the first rung on the ladder.”
Castleford, who warmed up with victory in the recent London Nines, have had a tough path to the final, beating holders Bradford Bulls, St Helens – the only side to have defeated Rhinos this year – and York City Knights.
“It’s not been an easy route,” Anfield reflected. “We just need to go one more time. It will be a great experience for them.”