SAINTS Women retained the Challenge Cup with a gritty 18-8 victory over Leeds at Elland Road.

The holders were given their toughest challenge of the season to date and trailed at the break.

But after clawing their way in front, with Leeds pounding the line, the Saints fans lifted their voices in unison.

It was a moment that experienced second row Emily Rudge described as “mega”.

She said: “I absolutely loved it. Honestly, I was getting chills hearing it.

“It was nail-biting the whole way through and especially when we were defending our line because Leeds never give up.

“We have had this before in a couple of semi finals with Leeds in 2019 and know that they can score at any moment and had to be so tight on our line.

“We spoke about that before the game that Leeds would not give up.

“To have the fans to lift us at that moment was just mega.”

Two-try Eboni Partington added: “It was nice to have those supporting us as much as the men.

“There were thousands supporting us as a club and moving forward as one club is really important.”

Having eased their way through to the final without conceding a point, suddenly Saints found themselves in a battle.

But the tougness they had to show and resilience in coming back made the spoils of victory taste even sweeter for second rower Rudge.

"They are the kind of games we want," she said.

St Helens Star:

Emily Rudge.

"And when you get a win from earning a win it feels so, so much better.

"I am absolutely buzzing to get the trophy again and bring it home.

"We said in pre-season that we would have to work a lot harder if we qanted to win again because everyone is raising their game and we needed to raise ours.

That view was echoed by Partington, who added: "It showed a lot about us that even though we have not had hard games and challenges we can still perform.

"It was tough and in that first 20 minutes it really showed – but now, with Super League starting, it will make us a lot better and open up those challenges more."

Saints begin their Super League defence with a home game against Wigan on Sunday at 2PM at TWS.