Record Super League crowd watches York Valkyrie cruise to conquer Leeds Rhinos

Tara-Jane Stanley, one of the stars of England’s campaign that ultimately ran aground in the semi-finals, starred with a try and 10 boot points, earning them instant revenge against the team that had denied them in the Grand Final. from last year. .

The match marked the first women’s game where payouts, in the form of win bonuses, were at stake, and it’s a further sign of how far the women’s game has come that the narrative around both teams remains one of impending exodus. of its best Australian NRWL players, mostly professional.

Key Rhinos pairing Georgia Roche and Fran Goldthorp were absent from the team sheet amid ongoing discussions over their respective moves to Australia, with Rhinos coach Lois Forsell indicating afterward that Roche is close to finalizing a deal. to move to the Newcastle Knights.

However, the race to become England’s first professional women’s rugby league player will be won by York second row Hollie-Mae Dodd, who scored a try in what may have been her last appearance for Valkyrie before an expected move to Canberra. Raiders.

β€œHollie will go,” York head coach Lindsay Anfield confirmed. β€œShe will announce the news of her when she is ready, but we fully support her. She played very well today and she’s in the locker room getting excited about the fact that she could go.

β€œIt is absolutely huge for this club. I support any girl who wants to go play there. Obviously we don’t just want to feed the NRL, we want to grow our own product, but why wouldn’t players want to go there and prove themselves?

England v Canada - Women's Rugby League World Cup - Group A - DW Stadium
Hollie-Mae Dodd is expected to leave York to join the Canberra Raiders (Tim Goode/PA)

The Anfield side avenged their Grand Final defeat with ease against a side who, having added English star Amy Hardcastle and exported New Zealand Georgia Hale to their arsenal at the season finale, were designated almost unanimously as favorites for the title.

Tamzin Renouf dropped on a nifty burst from Valkyrie captain Sinead Peach to give her side the lead that was soon extended by Stanley, whose boot accuracy earned her the first of five successful conversions.

Jasmine Bell’s yellow card for a high tackle on Zoe Hornby halted York’s initial drive and allowed Leeds to equalize when Keara Bennett wriggled from dead half before Sam Hulme kicked his first of two conversions.

Stanley looped a long pass to Ashleigh Hyde to restore her team’s lead, but Leeds summoned a stunning reply when Eloise Hayward ducked after Caitlin Beevers broke up a 40-yard flurry inches from the try line.

Dodd restored York’s lead before half-time and after Leeds failed to capitalize on the pressure early in the second half, Valkyrie extended their lead on 50 minutes when Liv Gale dove through a flat-footed home backline.

Stanley burned in the corner for a try with 15 minutes to go, and raised her personal contribution to 14 points on a late penalty and a late touchdown conversion from Ellie Hendry as Valkyrie wrapped up an impressive performance.

“Leeds have these outstanding players with a lot of experience, but we put a lot of work into each individual and they can only keep getting better,” Anfield added.

β€œHollie will be a huge loss when she leaves, but we have players who are capable of filling that void. There were players on the team sheet today that you might have thought, ‘who are they?’, but they stood up to be counted and we have to be proud of that.”


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