19 May 2024

Leeds Rhinos Women 34 Wigan Warriors Women 20

By Sam Brocksom 

Leeds Rhinos Women will return to Wembley for the second year running after an exceptional 34-20 victory over Wigan Warriors at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Lois Forsell made one change to the side that were victorious in York last week. Shona Hoyle missed out through injury, meaning a return to the starting lineup for Bella Sykes and Jenna Greening coming onto the bench. 

The Rhinos started the match incredibly well. Ruby Enright's kick off wasn't dealt with by Wigan and the ball went into touch. In the resultant set, Leeds got close to the Wigan line before shifting the play left for Enright to capitalise on an overlap to break the deadlock within two minutes. She couldn't convert from the edge but a good start non-the-less.

Leeds initial lead didn't last long however, as two minutes later, Wigan captain Vicky Molyneux crashed over from close range. The second rower produced a show-and-go to fool the Leeds defence. Emma Knowles was successful with the conversion to give Wigan the lead. Shortly after, Knowles added a penalty goal after Leeds were penalised for a ball steal to make the scores 8-4 after 20 minutes.

Leeds would level the scores on their next attack however, as England international Caitlin Beevers was too powerful from close range as she powered over. Enright's kick hit the posts so the game stayed all square after half an hour.

There would be more tries before the half time hooter however, as Wigan capitalised on a period of pressure. Two penalties on Leeds' line gave them the chance to score, which they did through Grace Banks. Knowles was on target once more for Wigan to lead again.

Not for long though as Zoe Hornby did what she did best, fending and bouncing off defenders before scoring under the sticks. Enright converted the try to level the game once more, giving us a half-time scoreline of 14-14.

The second half was just as thrilling as the first with plenty of tries scored. Wigan broke the second half deadlock through Jade Gregory-Haselden. The prop forward was too strong for the Leeds defence and forced herself over the line. Knowles was on target once more in what would be the Warriors’ final points of the match.

Three tries in 10 minutes from Leeds gave them full control. First, Hanna Butcher produced a show and go to fool the Wigan defence, before she assisted Ruby Enright with a pinpoint kick for the full back to score under the posts. Minutes later, Lucy Murray barged her way through the line as she has done so often this season to give Leeds a 10 point lead with 25 minutes to go.

Leeds remained in full control after their flurry of tries but wouldn’t cross again until five minutes to go. Keara Bennett got close and reached out over the line. The decision went to the video referee and the try was awarded. Enright missed the kick but it wouldn’t matter as Leeds Rhinos women had secured their place at Wembley in this year’s Challenge Cup Final.

Leeds: Enright, Whitehead, Beevers, Hardcastle, Cousins, Butcher, Casey, Field, Bennett, Northrop, Murray, Sykes, Dainton. Subs: Robinson, Hornby, Greening, Donnelly.

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