SAINTS Women made it back-to-back wins at Wembley - and four in a row Challenge Cups after a 22-0 victory over Leeds Rhinos.

It was a clinical performance from Matty Smith's side, who withstood a shaky start to grow into and then eventually take total control of the game.


The nil in the scoreline again illustrated Saints' defensive strengths and they lifted the trophy having just conceded one try in the who competition this term.

It was a 1-17 performance - with the pack grafting hard, led by the awesome carries of skipper Jodie Cunningham.

The pack were assisted by some fine work in yardage from both wings Leah Burke and Phoebe Hook.

And all of this was masterminded by the craft of the two halves Faye Gaskin and player of the match Zoe Harris.


The pleasing aspect of this performance was the way the older heads looked after the youngsters, allowing teenage full back Beri Salihi to grow into the game after a shaky start.

Salihi even withstood a high tackle, that needed a HIA, to make a sound impression on her first Wembley. 

A couple of early errors with the ball allowed Leeds to have plenty of early pressure, but there was a keen determination to keep the tryline intact.

And from having a close shave with a disallowed Leeds try, Saints countered to draw first blood.


And it was experienced half back  Gaskin, who says she is retiring this year, who opened the Saints account with a weaving run through the heart of the Leeds goal-line defence and then tagged on the extras.

Saints extended that lead when Phoebe Hook nipped in at the corner to continue her scoring run at Wembley after a magical pass from Harris.

Leading 10-0 at the break, Saints got that crucial first score after the break when Cunningham and Emily Rudge combined to send Luci McColm over to make it 16-0.

And then Saints ensured that they controlled the rest of the game.

Key to that was the hard carries, particularly from skipper Cunningham, and the kicking game of the halves.


Two Harris kicks in particular turned the screw, with her chase on one and then the threat of the other forcing drop outs.

The game was already safely in the bag by the time prop Chantelle Crowl took a Tara Jones inside ball to steam over for a try under the sticks.

It was an all-round remarkable achievement from the women of St Helens - and no wonder there was unbridled delight at the final whistle.

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

Leeds: Enright; Cousins, Hardcastle, Beevers, Whitehead, Butcher, Casey, Field, Bennett, Northrop, Murray, Hoyle, Sykes. Subs: Dainton, Donnelly, Hornby, Robinson.