SAINTS Women earned two valuable Super League points – and struck a possible psychological blow ahead of the Wembley final between the sides with a 12-6 win over Leeds Rhinos at Totally Wicked Stadium.

The victory was secured by an awesome defence that soaked up prolonged periods of Leeds pressure particularly in the opening quarter and for a prolonged spell of the second half.

There was a real willingness to keep the line intact, regardless of what was thrown at it.

Leeds had all the early pressure in the first quarter with a combination of handling errors from a misfiring attack and some bad luck on the 50/50s handing the visitors four different opportunities to press the Saints line.

They covered and scrambled well, and on two occasions it needed desperation tackles on the line to hold up the ball carrier and deny tries on the line.

Having soaked up that pressure Saints countered and after a fine dummying run from scrum half Faye Gaskin, dummy half Katie Mottershead darted through and was halted by a high shot in front of the sticks.

Gaskin duly slotted the goal to give Saints a 2-0 lead on 25 minutes.

Great take and run from Erin Stott, took high ball and cleared the line. Clever raking kick and chase from Zoe Harris on back of that Gaskin dummied right and then straightened up and was able to force her way through the defence on the line to ground it.

Gaskin improved it herself and then added a penalty to take her tally and the team’s to 10 points for the first half.

Although Saints enjoyed the lion’s share of the territorial advantage for the third quarter, aided by a fine kicking game from Zoe Harris, they were always kept at bay.

And in a reverse of the first half fortunes it was Leeds who came off the ropes to poach a try, off the back of a six again.

Leeds hooker Keara Bennett’s direct running from dummy half close to the line found a chink in the Saints defensive armour to open the visitors’ account.

The Rhinos pounded the Saints line but Saints’ defence was equal to it up the middle and on the edges to deny them.

Another fine run from Mottershead culminated in a Saints penalty to relieve some of that pressure.

And then in the subsequent set a powerful surge from prop Vicky Whitfield scattered the Rhinos defence to win a penalty that Gaskin duly slotted in front of the sticks to make it 12-6 with seven minutes to play.

However, there was no respite and a failure to deal with the kick off saw Leeds straight back on the attack – but once again Saints repelled them.

Saints repelled another set but a ricochet on the last saw them penalised for offside and they had even more work to do on their own line.

They again delivered to delight the crowd, that had slowly but surely built as the game progressed – and will have won over a few more new fans along the way.

Saints: Salihi; Hook, E Stott, McColm, Burke;Harris, Gaskin; Whitfield, Jones, Crowl, Travis, Rudge, Cunningham. Subs: Williams, D Stott, Birchall, Mottershead. 18th Sutherland.

Leeds: Whitehead; Cousins, Hardcastle, Beevers, Robinson; Butcher, Casey; Field, Bennett, Northrop, Sykes, Murray, Donnelly. Subs: Hornby, Moxon, Lockwood, Greening. 18th: Watson