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The first of the weekend’s four Challenge Cup semi-finals got underway on Saturday lunchtime as York Valkyrie took on the holders, St Helens, at the Eco-Power Stadium in Doncaster in a game which the bookies couldn’t decide on a favourite.

The York side had illness in the camp with several of their star players missing as they cobbled together a side to match the side who have lifted the Women’s Challenge Cup for the last three seasons.

York were victorious in the league meeting between the two sides in round one when they recorded a 20-16 win in a close game, on paper it really was too close to call.

The first points of the game came from the boot of Faye Gaskin after a high tackle thirty out from the Valkyrie sticks.

Great attacking work from York was met with equally great defence from Saints as the Valkyrie enjoyed several sets of six inside the Saints twenty.

The first try also went to St Helens after absorbing masses of York pressure when the ball moved from right to left and into the hands of Leah Burke to dive over in the corner. Gaskin was just short with the conversion attempt. Saints with a six-point lead on the half hour mark but the Valkyrie were still in the game.

Within two minutes of the restart Saints were in again when Darcy Stott took a pass ten from the line and crashed over to score under the sticks. Gaskin kicked the conversion from under the sticks for a 12-0 lead, the York side now up against it as Saints had the momentum.

York opted to put some points on the board on forty-seven after being gifted a penalty close to the sticks, Rhiannion Marshall kicking the two points in what looked like a strange decision for a side twelve points down, to reduce the arrears to ten.

On fifty-five Saints edged further ahead after a Beri Salih break made good ground before she was hauled down. A fast play the ball saw the ball into the hands of Emily Rudge from Jodie Cunningham, the second rower going in for the points. Gaskin added a third goal of the afternoon for 18-2 with twenty-four minutes remaining.

A sensational solo try over thirty metres from winger Phoebe Hook edged Saints back to Wembley as she took a pass wide, broke the York line, and ran in under the sticks. Gaskin was again on target, the Saints lead now twenty-two points.

Tara Jones was held up over the line on seventy-four but on the next play the ball Hook crossed in the right-hand corner for her second of the afternoon. The conversion attempt hit the upright.

With two minutes remaining Saints added insult to injury as Georgia Sutherland added a sixth St Helens try in a half that they had dominated. Gaskin missed the conversion again, but it mattered for nothing.

It was a near perfect afternoon for Saints, and a massive disappointment for York Valkyrie, as the Red Vee progress through to yet another Challenge Cup Final to defend their trophy as they seek to lift it for a fourth consecutive season and maintain their one hundred percent record in the final of the knockout competition.

York Valkyrie: Hetherington, Partington, Renouf, Roberts, Kershaw, Rihari, Eastwood, Wood, Wilton, Stimpson, Owen, Andrade, Bell.  Subs: Marshall (1/1 G), Gentles, Sanderson, Sharp. 18th Man: Hendry.

St Helens: Salih, Hook (2T), Stott E, McColm, Burke (T), Harris, Gaskin (4/7 G), Whitfield, Jones, Crowl, Travis, Rudge (T), Cunningham. Subs: Williams, Stott D (T), Mottershead, Sutherland (T). 18th Man: Birchall. 

Half-Time: 0-6.

Full-Time: 2-32.

Score Progression: 0-2, 0-6 : HT: 0-10, 0-12, 2-12, 2-16, 2-18, 2-22, 2-24, 2-28, 2-32 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: Saints.

Referee: Aaron Belafonte.  

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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 18th May 2024 12:58 PM | Views : 3655 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES