SAINTS Women’s skipper Jodie Cunningham could not contain her delight at getting her hands on the Challenge Cup for the first time in the red vee.

Although Cunningham had played in four previous cup final wins with Thatto Heath, this is her first piece of silverware since the Women's Super League was formed.

No wonder she was overjoyed as she raised the trophy at Leigh after a comprehensive win over York in a match that broke new ground in being broadcast live on the BBC.

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The 29-year-old said: “It was amazing and it feels so good to finally win a trophy as St Helens Women.

“We have been good enough to do that for a long time now, but we have fallen just short.

“We used the Covid break to our advantage and then worked really hard, coming back fitter, stronger and more skilful than ever before.”

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Saints withstood some early York pressure before finally taking the lead and getting a tight control on the game.

“We were a little bit sloppy in parts of the game, making errors that we would not normally make, but that is the occasion,” Cunningham said.

“It meant so much for the girls to be out there and live on BBC, so nerves played a part.

“Some of the tries we scored were outstanding and we dug in really well on the line defensively.

I am so proud of them – it means so much. It is a relief more than anything to finally get that win.”

For Cunningham, who has been in the vanguard of the women’s game from the early days, this performance was about more than just Saints.

“The pressure was on us to perform, not just as individuals, or as St Helens, but for the whole women’s game.

“York and us were representing that and showcasing the sport to new eyes who had never seen it before.

“There was pressure in that sense to make sure we did the game proud,” she said.

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Saturday’s Challenge Cup final was played at Leigh Sports Village as part of a triple-header with the men’s semi finals.

And that is viewed as one more big step for the women’s game which will have plenty of players having hopes and aspirations of playing showpiece games on much bigger stages in the future.

Cunningham said: “It will be nice to finally get a game at Wembley, the game is going that way.

“But for today it was about getting the win and we could have played on a park in the middle of nowhere. It was about getting the win.

“Maybe one day we will be playing a game at Wembley and progress is all in the right way and we are doing things that I never thought would happen in the women’s game. Things I never thought I would see as a player.”