Leeds Rhinos Ladies 68 York City Knights 16 - Gallant Knights no match for the new-look Rhinos
New look Leeds Rhinos women saw off valiant York City Knights Ladies with an impressive 68-16 win.
Rhinos made a dream return to the field, Courtney Winfield-Hill, the 2019 Woman of Steel picking up where she left off and opening the scoring with the Rhinos’ first possession.
York found a response inside 10 minutes, Katie Langan slipping through the defence on the fourth tackle to cross to the left of the posts and put the Knights Ladies back on level terms after a failed conversion.
The Knights then stunned the champions when full-back Ellie Hendry switched direction off a Leeds for a second, converted try to make it 10-4.
Ellie Oldroyd made her England aspirations clear with huge contact in defence and doubled down with a try in the 20th minute. No conversion so Rhinos trailed 10-8. Centre Chloe Kerrigan restored the Rhinos’ lead as the ball went to their favoured left edge. Hanna Butcher was denied by the York full-back but, minutes later, took an offload from Sophie Robinson and streaked to the posts. Winfield-Hill converted to push the Rhinos out to an 18-10 lead.
Moments before half-time, highly impressive debutante Adaoha Akwiwu put her stamp firmly on the match, the winger scooting out of dummy-half and rounding the entirety of the defence from halfway and crossing under the sticks to send the Rhinos into the half 24-10 up after Winfield-Hill’s conversion.
Leeds made the perfect start to the second half, Sam Hulme splitting the defence from dummy half and opening out into the back field before drawing the attention of the full-back and popping the ball out to Elle Frain on the shoulder to kickstart a dominant second half from the Rhinos. The resulting kick off saw Akwiwu then collect the ball on the Rhinos 30 before the carving up the defence fending away from would be tacklers and racing clear under the posts for her second try of the game. Winfield-Hill converting to make it 34-10.
Two years after a double leg break Sophie Robinson would cap off her return to the Rhinos outfit with a try, the ball going out to the right edge through the hands and the centre spinning out of contact and lunging for the line to score, Winfield-Hill on hand from the touchline to convert once more.
Winfield-Hill had truly found her rhythm and after threw a sensational cut out ball on the left edge to put Ella Johsnon over in the left corner minutes after being injected into the game. The conversion from the left touchline missed and the game moved out to a 44-10 scoreline in favour of the Rhinos.
Aimee Staveley’s hard work would be rewarded when Hanna Butcher put the second rower through a hole in the defensive line ten meters out on the right edge. Winfield-Hill brought up the half century as the Rhinos made it 50-10.
Sophie Robinson secured her second try assist of the game when she put debutant winger Tara Moxon over in the right corner, the ball moving through the hands creating the overlap on the edge for Moxon to dive over.
York refused to bow out of this fixture quietly and scored of a Hail Mary play with 10 minutes remaining, a kick moving in the air away from the Rhinos fullback and toed on by Hendry to grab her second of the game, the kick converted.
Winfield-Hill would have her prints all over the next two tries. the captain going short for herself off the kick off, two plays later putting Elle Frain over for her second of the game.
Winfield-Hill produced one of her signature tries, crabbing across the line showing the ball to potential recipients before sliding through the defensive line and crossing under the posts.
Both efforts were converted and the Rhinos to bring up a 68-16 final scoreline over the York City Knights Ladies.