Saints beat Leeds to retain Women's Challenge Cup

Faye Gaskin's opening try at Wembley
St Helens took until the 25th minute to score the opening try at Wembley through Faye Gaskin (second left) [rex]

Betfred Women's Challenge Cup final

Leeds (0) 0

Tries: Goals:

St Helens (10) 22

Tries: Gaskin, Hook, McColm, Crowl Goals: Gaskin 3

St Helens made it four straight Women's Challenge Cup final victories as they comfortably beat Leeds Rhinos for the third year running.

On a day when the world of sport, the game of rugby - and rugby league in particular - mourned the loss of Rob Burrow, his old club had hoped for inspiration on the great Wembley Stadium stage.

Burrow was honoured with a minute's silence before the game.

However, despite the game efforts of a Rhinos side spearheaded by battling England centre Caitlin Beevers, Saints' defence was simply far too good and the better side won.

Saints' four victories equals the four wins in their former guise as Thatto Heath Crusaders from 2013 to 2016, prior to being bought out by Saints in 2018.

This was the 12th staging of the women's final since the competition began in 2012, but only the second time at Wembley.

And after the disapointment for Leeds of a chalked-off try, it took 24 minutes to break the deadlock when another England player Faye Gaskin claimed the game's first score.

Rather against the run of play, the holders found the right platform 10 yards out and the Saints half-back showed fancy footwork to wade through some poor challenges and go over close to the posts.

Gaskin herself added the two points. And, within six minutes, Saints had a second when Phoebe Hook went over in the right corner - although Gaskin's conversion attempt dropped just short.

Having turned round with a 10-0 lead, within five minutes of the restart, Saints put themselves firmly in command when, from a second set, Luci McColm capitalised on good handling all the way down the line to burst over close to the left corner - and Gaskin added a fine two points.

Leeds, winners of this trophy in 2018 and 2019 prior to Saints' subsequent domination, battled hard to avoid being the first side to be 'nilled' in the women's final since Bradford Thunderbirds lost 46-0 to Featherstone Rovers in 2012.

Instead it was Chantelle Crowl who went over for a fourth try 10 minutes from time, Gaskin added the extras - and, other than the announcement of Saints number six Zoe Harris as player of the match, that was job done.

Leeds: Enright; Cousins, Hardcastle, Beevers, Whitehead; Butcher (c), Casey; Field, Bennett, Northrop, Murray, Hoyle, Sykes.

Interchanges: Dainton, Donnelly, Hornby, Robinson.

St Helens: Salihi; Hook, E Stott, McColm, Burke; Harris, Gaskin; Whitfield, Jones, Crowl, Travis, Rudge, Cunningham (c).

Interchanges: Williams, D Stott, Mottershead, Sutherland.

Referee: Aaron Moore.