Coach Lois Forsell hails the impact of her Leeds Rhinos debutants

A QUARTET of debutants impressed as Leeds Rhinos began their season with a 38-8 win at Huddersfield Giants in the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup group stage.
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Former Woman of Steel Georgia Roche scored two tries in the first half and set up another as Rhinos – whose only warm-up game was against Warrington Wolves exactly a month earlier – hit back from 4-0 behind to lead 24-4 at the interval.

Stand-off Roche was a high-profile signing from Castleford Tigers and coach Lois Forsell said: “She went well.

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“She started to play with her head up a little bit more and seemed more confident and relaxed, which is what we want her to feel like.”

The coach was equally pleased with Rhinos’ other new faces, prop Emma Lumley, substitute Alexandra Barnes and winger Sophia Williams.

“Emma took some things away from the game against Warrington and really put them into practice,” Forsell said.

“It was great to see Alex out there; she didn’t play in the pre-season game and made a massive impact when she came on.

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“Sophia is learning with every game, she’s a young player and it’ll be exciting to see where we can get her to come the end of the season.”

Overall, Forsell felt Rhinos took “a lot of positives” from their first competitive game of the season, but added: “There’s definitely a lot to work on.

“We were steady, there’s certainly areas we need to improve with some of our energy and intent, but they definitely made efforts to improve the areas we needed to fix up from the Warrington game and I was pleased with that.”

Full-back Caitlin Beevers and prop Aimee Staveley became the first players to make 50 appearances for Rhinos.

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Giants scored first through Amelia Brown, but Roche’s brace and a try each from Fran Goldthorp and Keara Bennett – all converted by Samantha Hulme – put Rhinos in command by half-time.

Tasha Gaines, Shannon Lacey and Hulme – who added one more goal – crossed in the second half before Angel Howey scored the game’s final try, for Giants.