Opposition Profile – Women’s Super League Grand Final
Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 29/09/2021 - Rugby League - Betfred Women's Super League Grand Final 2021 Preview - Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - St Helens' Jodie Cunningham with Leeds' Sophie Nutall.
Emerald Headingley will host the Betfred Women’s Grand Final this Sunday, kick off 3pm. Reigning champions Leeds Rhinos Women take on the 2021 Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield winners St Helens.
You can buy tickets for both the Grand Final and the BWSL Shield, which kicks off at 12pm, now by clicking here, or if you are a Rhinos member, find out about how you can activate your special offer here.
Throughout the season, along with Leeds, Saints have been one of the teams to beat as they made a positive return from the year off in 2020. The notable addition of Rachael Woosey, who swapped codes to join the club this season, proved a steal as the outside back has recorded 12 tries in 11 appearances during her first season.
Woman of Steel nominees Jodie Cunningham and Emily Rudge (prior to her injury), plus England internationals Chantelle Crowl and Amy Hardcastle have also led the charge for the Red Vee; former Bradford winger Hardcastle has 22 tries so far in her first season in red and white.
St Helens have the chance to become the first Women’s team to complete the treble should they win on Sunday afternoon. After an incredible season for Derek Hardman’s side, only the reigning Grand Final holders Leeds stand in the way of stopping the Merseyside club from sweeping all this season’s major honours.
Beginning with a 86-0 win over Bradford Bulls in April, the result set the tone of St Helens’ campaign as they have seen off every challenge that has been thrown at them throughout 2021. No team has come close to stopping the Red Vee as Huddersfield, Featherstone, Wigan and Warrington have all seen scorelines of over 50 points recorded against them and Saints’ only defeat during the regular season came when they couldn’t complete a fixture against York City Knights.
Following the break between July and August, St Helens came back strongly to go throughout the play offs unbeaten (the club lifting the League Leaders’ Shield as a reward) and last week, dominated Castleford to beat Marie Colley’s side 58-0 to qualify for the Grand Final.
Not only have Saints been successful in the league, but Hardman’s side have also lifted the Betfred Challenge Cup for the first time in the club’s history back in May. Wins against Featherstone and the Rhinos ensured a new side would get their name on the Cup for the first time as St Helens met a resurgent York City Knights side at Leigh Sports Village and beat them 34-6 with tries from Danielle Bush, Emily Rudge, Amy Hardcastle, Carrie Roberts, Paige Travis and a brace from Woosey.
Inspirational is a word that could describe both club captains – Courtney Winfield-Hill and Jodie Cunningham.
Cunningham is one of the most recognisable figures in women’s Rugby League in this country and can see out a memorable season by winning the Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield and Grand Final. The England international was a part of Thatto Heath Crusaders’ Grand Final winning side in 2016, the hooker scoring a try in the 38-6 win over Bradford Thunderbirds, but since the club merged with St Helens ahead of the Women’s Super League season in 2018, she has been unable to lift major silverware.
This season has seen that change as her combinations with Rudge, Beth Stott and Woosey has produced tries, success and silverware. Her 11 tries and 20 try assists haven’t gone unnoticed too as the loose forward was awarded the 2021 Woman of Steel at the 2021 Super League awards.
Cunningham will face off against the 2019 Woman of Steel Courtney Winfield-Hill, who also knows what it takes to win a Grand Final title. In her outstanding 2019 season, the half back was tremendous for the Rhinos as she led the club in tries (19) and points (182). She helped Adam Cuthbertson’s side in retaining the Challenge Cup and finally win the Grand Final, both against Castleford. Especially in the semi final win over York City Knights, her breakaway try on 48 minutes turned the tables in Leeds’ favour and inspired a Leeds fightback but for Sunday, the captain will want to use her team’s experience to get on the front foot early.
Last Meeting between Saints and Leeds
The Rhinos left it late to secure their sport in the Grand Final against a strong and resilient St Helens side in 2019.
Going into half time 14-4 down (Abby Eatock scoring the Rhinos’ only first half try), the visitors to the Totally Wicked Stadium mounted an unprecedented comeback as Courtney Winfield-Hill, Char Booth and a last minute try from Eatock saw Leeds return to the Grand Final with a 18-14 win.
Stats and League Records
Previous League Meetings:
2021 (H): Rhinos 0 Saints 24 (MATCH SUSPENDED)
2019 (WSL SEMI FINAL): Saints 14 Rhinos 18 (T: Booth, Winfield-Hill, Eatock (2); G: Winfield-Hill (1))
2019 (A): Saints 20 Rhinos 20 (T: Beevers (2), Winfield-Hill, Goldthorp; G: Winfield-Hill (2))
2019 (H): Rhinos 12 Saints 30 (T: Winfield-Hill (2), Lacey; G: Winfield-Hill (2))
2018 (H): Rhinos 12 Saints 6 (T: Forsell, Kerrigan; G: Winfield-Hill (2))
2018 (A): Saints 20 Rhinos 14 (T: Butcher, Forsell, S.Hill; G: Winfield-Hill (1))
Tickets and More Information
Tickets are still on sale for the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final at Emerald Headingley Stadium on Sunday 10 October (KO 3pm).
And, as part of a Women’s Rugby League double-header, Emerald Headingley will also host the Women’s Super League Shield Final which kicks off at 12noon.
Tickets for this finals double-header are available to buy now, priced £10 Adults and £5 U16s, via the RFL website. Seating is unreserved and fans can choose between the seated East Stand or standing in the North Stand.
Leeds Rhinos members will receive a promo code which allows them access to two free tickets which they can access by a £1 fee per ticket. Additional tickets can be purchased at £10 Adults and £5 U16s. Seating at the event is unreserved so members and/or season card holders can claim their free tickets separately and still sit together for all the action. Please note that free tickets must be claimed by 12 noon on Wednesday 6 October.
The Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final will also be shown live on Sky Sports Arena, with coverage starting from 2:30pm.