Women’s Challenge Cup Final 2022: Leeds and St Helens squads and talk from both camps

Women's Challenge Cup final

Holders St Helens will seek to defend their crown against Leeds Rhinos in the Women’s Challenge Cup 2022 final at Elland Road on Saturday.

The 2021 treble winners have been in ominous form in the early part of the new season, and boast a remarkable record of not even conceding a single point this year to date.

They won their three Challenge Cup group games to nil, before defeating Huddersfield 24-0 in the last eight and thumping Featherstone 82-0 in the semi-finals.

The new Women’s Super League season is yet to kick off, but Saints will undoubtedly enter it as favourites.

Leeds themselves have enjoyed a strong start to 2022, only conceding eight points prior to their narrow semi-final victory over York.

That 28-26 win might well stand them in good stead when it comes to the final.

What they said: St Helens

Saints captain Jodie Cunningham has become a familiar face in the women’s game, particularly through her work promoting the World Cup.

Cunningham said: “We have had some one-sided games this year and the (women’s) game is constantly developing and changes being made to help address some of that.

“We just try and focus on ourselves. When we have those games, while the scoreline might not be nice for everybody, it’s really important for us that we’re really solid defensively it’s irrelevant who we are playing.

“The nil means a lot to us.

“We focus strongly on our defence and making sure that we don’t switch off, and then look ahead at the combinations in attack and try things that may be in a tight game you would think twice about.

“It gives us the opportunity to try those things so that when it gets to a big game, you can deliver it.

“We’ve got a really competitive squad and that’s what’s raised us to the levels we’re at, because everyone’s competing for a place.”

What they said: Leeds

Leeds coach Lois Forsell thinks the closeness of their semi-final victory over York will stand them in good stead for the final.

Forsell said: “Everyone will be giving them the tag of favourites but I think being a club like Leeds means you’ve never really the underdog. There’s high expectations and if you get to the final you want to win and nothing else.

“We’re not putting lots of pressure on ourselves, we’re just being focused and want to go out there and perform.

“We took a lot from the semi-final, we learned a lot about ourselves. It’s a good reminder that we’ve got that ability to win those big games when it’s tough and you need to dig in.

“The final being at Leeds has got that special feel. It’s really exciting to be at Elland Road, it doesn’t get much bigger than that as a Leeds lass.”

MORE: Meet the Leeds Rhinos stars representing Jamaica in The Bahamas

Women’s Challenge Cup final: Team news

Emily Rudge returns to Derek Hardman’s squad having sat out the semi-final win.

Rudge joins fellow England internationals Amy Hardcastle, Tara Jones, Chantelle Crowl, Paige Travis, Emily Rudge and captain Jodie Cunningham.

Hardcastle has already scored 14 tries in this season’s Challenge Cup, followed by centre partner Carrie Roberts, who has scored 13 including four in the semi-final.

Recent signing Shona Hoyle is cup tied.

St Helens: Rotherham, Roberts, Hardcastle, Burke, Harris, Whitfield, Jones, Crowl, Travis, E Rudge, Cunningham, Williams, B Stott, D Stott, Partington, Birchall, Woosey, I Rudge, Sandham, Mottershead.

Leeds boast plenty of talent in their ranks, led by Courtney Winfield-Hill, the Australian former Woman of Steel who has declared allegiance to England for the end of season World Cup.

She plays alongside another former Woman of Steel in Georgia Roche at half-back, while Keara Bennett has been getting praise at number nine.

Leeds: Beevers, Goldthorp, Roche, Winfield-Hill, Staveley, Bennett, Anderson, Kerrigan, Butcher, Lacey, Hornby, McCallion, Gaines, Hulme, Earnshaw-Cudjoe, Lumley, Lockwood, Barnes, Watson.

Routes to the final

St Helens

  • Semi-final: W 82-0 v Featherstone
  • Quarter-final: W 24-0 v Huddersfield
  • Group: W 54-0 @ Warrington
  • Group: W 88-0 v British Army
  • Group: W 68-0 @ Barrow

Leeds

  • Semi-final: W 28-26 v York
  • Quarter-final: W 40-0 v Warrington
  • Group: W 38-8 v Huddersfield
  • Group: W 48-0 v Hull (forfeit)
  • Group: W 92-0 v Leigh Miners Rangers

Coverage

The game will be broadcast live on BBC Two from 11.30am, with a 12pm kick-off.

You can also listen to the match live on radio and online with BBC Radio Merseyside.

About James Gordon 7041 Articles
Love Rugby League editor. Founded the website back in 2005. Worked with a range of clubs and sponsors during that time. Also commentates for BBC.

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