Thatto Heath Crusaders are celebrating a remarkable double after their Reserves side won the Women’s Challenge Shield and their first-team took home the Women’s Challenge Cup at Bradford Bulls‘ Provident Stadium.
The Reserves kicked off proceedings in the Challenge Shield Final when they faced Whitley Bay Barbarians, the first-ever North East club to appear in a Women’s Rugby League final.
Thatto Heath came out firing and, inside the first few minutes, Lydia Binstead raced over after a break from Danni Bound.
Thatto continued to dominate possession and territory and, on the ten-minute mark, they were over for their second try of the match; Rebecca Rotheram, who also played in the Challenge Cup Final, received the ball in space and sprinted over for a well-worked try, 0-8.
With 20 minutes played, Rotheram was over for her second try. Thatto worked their way upfield and the ball was spun out-wide for her to score.
Then, on the half hour mark, Thatto had their fourth try, again a well-worked team move eventually saw Jade Ward force her way over the line from close range – Taleah Backo added the conversion to make it 18-0.
But, before the half was over, Whitley Bay enjoyed a strong spell of possession which started with an impressive break from Sam Hulme.
However, the Thatto Heath defence was able to scramble and keep the Barbarians out. Whitley Bay began the second half strongly, making good inroads into the Thatto Heath defence, however it was Thatto who struck again ten minutes into the second half.
They ran the ball from deep and moved the attack between numerous players before Danni Bound found herself in space with a clear sprint under the posts, Backo added the conversion 0-24.
The next try was again scored by Danni Bound, she broke through the defence, weaved her way around numerous defenders to score a stunning individual try from 80 metres 0-30.
Naomi Williams was the next Thatto try scorer, she cut back inside the onrushing defence ten metres out and crossed for Thatto’s seventh try of the match 0-34.On 60 minutes Thatto broke out again but an outstanding tackle from Whitley Bays Matilda Butler halted the attack.
With ten minutes left on the clock the ball was once again moved wide by Thatto and Alisha Lea dotted the ball down in the corner 0-38.
The final try came five minutes from time and saw Danni Bound complete her hat-rick, she spotted half a gap and turned on the after burners to sprint over the line, Backo added the extras for a final score of 44-0.
Whitley Bay battled hard throughout the game but on the day Thatto Heath St Helen’s Reserves deservedly lifted the Challenge Shield Trophy, a superb all round performance.
The Finals Day’s headline act saw Leigh Miners Rangers face Thatto Heath St Helens and it was Thatto who flew out of the blocks, Roxy Mura found herself with the ball in space and sprinted over to score the first try of the match 0-4.
Thatto Heath, for whom five players backed up from the Shield Final (Rebecca Rotheram, Millie Cadman, Jade Ward, Naomi Williams, Kath Organ), continued to attack and Katie-May Williams made good ground before the ball was spun wide to Tara Stanley, who touched down in the corner.
She went on to add the conversion from the touchline 0-10.
Jenny Welsby was the next try scorer for Thatto, she coasted through a gap in the midfield and scored under the posts 0-16.
On the 20-minute mark, Stanley crossed for her second try, almost identical to her first as the ball was shipped wide and she dotted down in the corner before improving.
Jodie Cunningham scored the fifth try for dominant Thatto Heath on the half hour mark, side-stepping her way around the Leigh Miners defenders from out to score.
That made it 28-0 and, minutes later, Thatto looked certain to have scored again, but outstanding scramble defence from Leigh Miners stopped what had seemed a certain try and the ball was lost just metres from the try line.
This was followed immediately with arguably the try of the day.
From behind her own try line, Leigh Miners’ Georgia Sutherland spotted a gap, she coasted through and outpaced the chasing defenders to score an outstanding length of the field try.
However, Thatto hit back shortly afterwards – the ball was spun out wide and Sammie Simpson stretched out to score 6-32.
Miners did finish the first half strongly, dominating possession and territory but the Thatto Heath defence held firm.
Into the second half, Thatto Heath started brightly, they enjoyed a strong spell of possession which eventually saw Emily Rudge dive over for a try from close range 6-36.
From the restart, Rudge was over for her second, she burst through the midfield and had the pace to get away from the covering defence to score her second try in as many minutes, Tara Stanley added the conversion for 6-42.
With 60 minutes gone, Thatto Heath’s Stanley completed her hat-rick – a powerful hand off saw off a Leigh Miners defender and she sprinted over the line, going on to add the conversion.
The next try for Thatto Heath was a second for Sammie Simpson who finished off a well worked move to score in the corner 6-52.
A second try for Jodie Cunningham came on 70 minutes as she exploited some space out wide and stretched out to score – 6-56.
Tara Stanley then continued to add to her already impressive points tally with a fourth try on 73 minutes, which she also converted, making it 6-62.
With the result inevitable, Leigh Miners battled their way upfield in the final few minutes of the match, dominating the possession and territory in the hunt for a try, however the Thatto defence proved impossible to breach.