On Friday night the Totally Wicked Stadium will see a repeat of the Women’s Challenge Cup Final as first-placed Castleford Tigers take on the third-placed Leeds Rhinos in the Women’s Super League Grand Final. The game will be broadcast live from 7:30pm on Sky Sports Mix.
At the University of Bolton Stadium in July, the Tigers lost out in the Challenge Cup Final for the second consecutive year to their West Yorkshire rivals.
But three months later, Lindsay Anfield’s side secured the League Leaders Shield and maintained an unbeaten home record for the 2019 season.
The clash will see who earns the bragging rights to call themselves the best team in the league.
The Tigers beat the defending champions Wigan Warriors with a convincing 34-4 victory to book their place at the big dance for the first time.
Having lost only two games in all competitions this season, Castleford will probably enter as the favourites to lift the coveted crown.
The second semi-final, between St. Helens and Leeds, went down to the wire.
Adam Cuthbertson’s side were trailing 14-0 for a period but managed to pull it back and sealed a dramatic victory in the dying stages of the game.
The Grand Final is to be aired on live television for the first time, with the game being broadcast in the UK and Australia.
The women’s rugby league has been coming on leaps and bounds, improving each season, and this will only help raise the profile of the women’s game even more.
The Tigers will be without Claire Garner, who is ruled out with a knee injury, and the Rhinos will be without forward Shannon Lacey, who sustained a head injury in the win against St. Helens.
RHINOS: Beevers, Goldthorp, Kerrigan, Eatock, Laverick, Butcher, Hill, Primm, Gaines, Johnson, Booth, Nuttall, Staveley. SUBS: Frain, Oldroyd, Bennett, Webster, Anderson, Holloran.
TIGERS: Stanley, Lumb, Eastwood, Owen, Gentles, Roche, Cudjoe, Field, Peach, Renouf, Hoyle, Dodd, Marshall. SUBS: Watts, Townend, Lumley, Slowe, Higo, Jordan.
Caitlin Beevers v Tara-Jane Stanley – Fullback
Caitlan Beevers, a product of St John Fisher Academy, was recruited by Leeds Rhinos Women for their under-19s academy before subsequently being promoted into the first team where she has been a taliswoman since 2018.
She is a well-experienced fullback having represented Yorkshire and played at international level representing England.
Beevers is also a rugby league referee and in 2018 she became the first woman to referee a game at Wembley Stadium when she was in the middle for the Year 7 Boys National Schools Final, the curtain raiser of the men’s Challenge Cup Final.
Her opposite number comes in the form of Tara-Jane Stanley, who has also played at representative level for England. She has bags of playing experience having played with Thatto Heath Crusaders before making the switch to Wheldon Road.
Courtney Hill v Georgie Roche – Half-back
Just hours after helping her team to victory in the semi-final at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday, Rhinos half-back and captain Courtney Hill picked up the Telegraph Woman of Steel award.
Only the second player to pick up the award, Hill has proven she is more than capable of performing on the big stage, picking up the player of the match in the Challenge Cup Final.
She will lead her team around the park and will be a threat with plenty of skills in her locker. Hill will be faced with tough opposition in the form of Georgia Roche, the first recipient of the Woman of Steel award.
She has been a mainstay in the Tigers side since its inception – and the half-back will still have a sour taste in her mouth over the loss against Leeds in July.
PREDICTION: LEEDS BY 6
The Tigers have only lost two games all season and go in as the favourites but the Rhinos have shown their quality and ability to play in the big games, turning over Friday night’s opponents in the Women’s Challenge Cup Final already this season. They will be looking to avenge last season’s two-point Grand Final defeat against Wigan Warriors – and add more silverware to their collection by achieving the domestic double.