Castleford Tigers 12-20 Leeds Rhinos: Leeds win Women's Super League Grand Final to claim double
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 12/10/19 7:47am
Fran Goldthorp's two second-half tries helped Leeds Rhinos complete the league and cup double with a 20-12 victory over Castleford Tigers in Friday’s Women's Super League Grand Final.
Tries from Masie Lumb and Lacey Owen saw the Tigers roar into an eight-point lead with just six minutes gone at St Helens' Totally Wicked Stadium, but a superb solo effort from Abby Eatock cut the Rhinos' deficit to just 8-4 at the break.
The defences were on top during the second half until Player of the Match Goldthorp's double saw the Rhinos push in front, with Elle Frain's converted score putting the seal on their title triumph.
The match was a re-run of this year's Challenge Cup final, where the Rhinos had triumphed 16-10 over the team which would eventually go on to lift the Women's Super League Leaders' Shield after suffering just one defeat during the regular season.
Leeds, coached by men's team forward Adam Cuthbertson, were aiming to make amends for being edged out by Wigan Warriors in last year's Grand Final as well and managed to do just that, yet did not have everything their own way.
The Tigers could hardly have asked for a better start, going ahead with barely 90 seconds gone after Leeds prop Amy Johnson was deemed to have knocked on in a tackle on the first carry of the match.
Castleford surged forward from the resulting scrum and worked numbers out wide on the right, with Tara Stanley passing to Lucy Eastwood, who in turn fed winger Lumb to score an unconverted try in the corner
Another handling error led to Lindsay Anfield's side pushing further ahead in the sixth minute as they regained the ball and centre Owen took Rhiannon Marshall's dummy-half pass to slice through the Rhinos defence for a second unconverted score.
Leeds then regained their composure and worked their way back into the match in the 13th minute, getting their reward when Hannah Butcher picked out centre Eatock, who stepped on the gas from 45 metres out and raced in for her seventh try in four games.
It was then very much defence to the fore for both teams, but Leeds were able to draw level on 56 minutes as a big tackle by Ellie Oldroyd on Kelsey Gentles led to an error from which the Rhinos were able to launch a counter-attack.
Woman of Steel Courtney Hill's run took Leeds to within striking distance, and when the scrum-half slipped out a one-handed pass to Goldthorp, the winger forced her way over to finish off the attack to bring her side level.
Nine minutes later, Goldthorp was in again as she picked up the ball from dummy-half just inside her own half and set off, stepping Castleford full-back Stanley and racing over for a try converted by Hill despite the best efforts of Hollie Dodd to hold her up.
Second row Frain took Leeds to within touching distance of the title when she was sent powering through a gap in the defence by Hill in the 69th minute, although Gentles' unconverted score with seven minutes served as a reminder Castleford were not done yet.
The Tigers could not claw their way back into the contest though and when the final hooter sounded, it was the Rhinos players who were celebrating at the conclusion of a memorable season.