Featherstone Rovers 22 Huddersfield Giants 24: Heartbreak for Rovers as Giants win Women's Super League Shield
Featherstone Rovers suffered heartbreak in the Betfred Women’s Super League Shield final at Emerald Headingley as underdogs Huddersfield Giants became the first team to lift the trophy.
The Shield is a new competition for the bottom five teams in Betfred Women's Super League and Sunday's end-to-end final, which Giants edged 24-22, was a terrific advertisement.
Rovers, who finished the regular season in sixth place and were unbeaten in the Shield leading into the final, battled back from eight points behind to lead early in the second half, but Giants were the better team overall.
They opened the scoring through stand-off Francesca Townend, who pounced on a mistake by Shenelle Mannion to race over after eight minutes for a try which she also converted.
A superb long pass by England/Great Britain’s most capped player Andrea Dobson - in her final game - sent Chloe Billington in for Rovers, but Bridget Campbell stormed through the defence for Giants’ second touchdown.
Featherstone seemed to be gaining the upper hand when they scored two tries in 10 minutes either side of the interval - through Olivia Grace and Brogan Churm, both converted by Katherine Hepworth - to go four points ahead.
But Giants’ right winger Amelia Brown turned the game on its head with back-to-back tries, both off passes from centre Erin Stott and with Townend maintaining her 100 per cent kicking record, Rovers were 22-16 down.
Churm’s second try, a terrific solo effort which Hepworth improved, made it a two-point game with 17 minutes remaining and Rovers almost regained the lead with eight minutes left, but Grace Dyke could not take Olivia Grace’s pass.
Brown then raced clear for what seemed to be a certain hat-trick try, but Francesca Copley chased back to make a stunning last-gasp tackle.
Giants stand-off Sade Rihari was named player of the match.
Featherstone Rovers: Hepworth, Billington, Kennedy, Harrison, Copley, Dobson, Grace, Churm, Blackburn, Treece, Hammond, Watt, Mannion. Subs Newby, Hazell, Butler, Dyke.
Huddersfield Giants: Curley, Brown, Stott, Thompson, Loney, Townend, Rihari, Hawkins, Sykes, Bellerby, Rowe, Northrop, Wilkinson. Subs Oates, Campbell, Fairbank, Barker.
Referee: Nick Bennett (Wakefield).