Yates' verdict: What a day for the super Saints!

Super Saints are the cup kings of women's Rugby League.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 7:01 am
Saints women celebrate their Challenge Cup win over York. Picture: SWPix

In the same week as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the II acceded to the throne 68 years ago, head coach Derek Hardman's girls celebrated their own coronation by toppling York City Knights 34-6 at sun-kissed Leigh Sports Village in the final of their own Betfred Challenge Cup on Saturday.

Many pre-match pundits reckoned that unbeaten St Helens would have too much know-how and experience for the rank outsiders from the cathedral city, but it didn't look that way during the opening exchanges.

Saints had to work their socks off to keep the Knights at arm's length in what was developing into a tough, bruising and no-nonsense encounter.

The underdogs certainly bared their teeth early on, forcing the local lasses to defend like Trojans to keep their line intact.

But a 15th minute try lifted a great weight off the red-hot favourites' shoulders and by half-time had established a commanding 20-0 lead and from that point the game was as good as over.

Emily Rudge earned the player of the match accolade but in essence. victory was achieved by all-round team work from a well-oiled machine superbly marshalled by visionary skipper Jodie Cunningham.

She also showed her class, being instrumental in setting up several tries with astute handling and must have run Rudge close in the race for the top individual award.

Finally, congratulations to BBC TV for having the foresight to screen the match live and showcasing a branch of sport which is growing in stature all the time.

IT was also a red-letter day for the men's team who reached the final of the Betfred Rugby League Challenge Cup and now face Castleford Tigers at Wembley on Saturday, July 17 - a tie which has the potential to be a classic between two clubs who love to play expansive rugby.

Saints, who last won the trophy in 2008, booked their passage to the capital city, thanks to a 33-18 victory over Hull FC.

It was a far cry from the previous weekend's Super League meeting at the Totally Wicked Stadium which the defending champions won 34-16.

Hull had obviously learned lessons from that setback and in the first half asked one or two questions but when trailing 20-2 with only half an hour remaining the writing seemed on the wall.

To their credit they threatened a late comeback until a Regan Grace special stopped them in their tracks, leaving the better side on the day progressing to the final.

TWO brothers will face each other in the Wembley final. Saints' forward Sione Mata'utia will be on one side and his elder brother, Peter, on the other in the Cas colours.

I can also remember the Beardmore brothers playing for Cas at Wembley, as well as the Paul brothers, Henry and Robbie gracing the national stadium in their Bradford days, but from the top of my head I can't recall brothers playing on the opposite sides of the fence before.

I might be wrong but anyone with an answer please left me know via [email protected]

THERE is likely to be a number of familiar faces in the Cas camp for the Wembley showdown, namely former St Helens stars Michael Shenton, Jordan Turner. Danny Richardson and Gareth O'Brien - with the latter appearing seven times in a loan spell at the Totally Wicked Stadium in 2013.

Turner'shat-trick and O'Brien's five goals paved the way for the Tykes victory over the Wire and while Richardson was surprisingly left out of the squad, he will no doubt be battling back to earn his first team spot ahead of Wembley

Turner, a Grand Final winner at Saints in 2014, where he made 117 appearances, was the hero of the West Yorkshire side's semi-final win over Warrington and couldn't hide his sheer delight at the end.

He said: ''I've waited 16 years for this moment and now my dream has come true.''