Leeds Rhinos women are facing biggest challenge to date

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LEEDS RHINOS’ women have had an outstanding debut season, but winger Sophie Robinson reckons they will need to improve to win their first silverware.

The Super League leaders, who have lost just once in 11 competitive matches this year, are preparing to face Castleford Tigers in the Women’s Challenge Cup final at Warrington’s HJ Stadium tomorrow (3pm).

Sophie Robinson.

Sophie Robinson.

Their league form will send them into the showpiece as favourites, but Robinson insists Rhinos have not yet reached their full potential.

“It’s the biggest game we have had so far and for a lot of the girls it’s the biggest game of their playing career,” Robinson said of tomorrow’s final.

“It’s exciting and it’s the chance for us to step up to the level we know we can get to.

“We’ve been winning games, but on Saturday we need to step up to the level we know we can play at and bring in all the training we’ve done.

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“As long as we do that I think we should get the win.”

Challenge Cup success would be the first step towards a clean sweep of major honours with Rhinos also in contention to finish top of the table and go on to Grand Final glory, emulating what Bradford Bulls did last year.

“I think it’s in the back of everyone’s minds,” Robinson admitted. “The position we are in now we know we can achieve the treble, but we are just focusing on Saturday at the moment.

“We are top of the table and we know if we carry on the way we are playing hopefully we can achieve the treble at the end of the season.”

Castleford will have a huge say in that. They are fourth in Super League, having won four and drawn one of their seven games so far.

They beat Rhinos 24-8 in a pre-season encounter, but Leeds avenged that with a 40-12 success at Headingley in May.

Robinson warned: “Us and Cas, I think we are at a similar level.

“We are both still learning and we’ve both got a lot of exciting players in our teams.

“I think for the fans it is going to be a really good game.

“It is going to be close, closer than the game at Headingley.

“They are a good team and we’ve got to perform because if not they have got players who can hurt us.

“They’ve got talent everywhere in the team. I don’t know if they are the underdogs, I think it’s just an unknown game.

“It’s the first major final for both of us so it’s just who performs better on the day. I think we have the talent in our team and the training behind us to hopefully step up and get the win.”

Robinson joined Rhinos from Championship side Stanningley who will defend their Shield title in tomorrow’s curtain-raiser against Bradford (1pm).

“We’ve got four Yorkshire teams in the finals and it’s a brilliant day to showcase women’s rugby league,” Robinson said.

“Having Stanningley there will show the level the Championship’s at. It’s not just all about the Super League. I think it’s going to be a good day and nobody knows what’s going to happen.

“That’s the big thing, any team can win on the day. It’s just about who turns up and who can bring everything together on the day.”