St Helens had one eye on the treble as they came into the Grand Final to take on a Leeds Rhinos side who had home advantage and were defending champions after beating the Castleford Tigers in the last Grand Final in 2019.
Saints were big favourites after a season which has seen them go unbeaten through the play-offs and score one hundred and fifty-eight points while conceding only six and lifting the League Leaders Trophy.
After an end-to-end start Jodie Cunningham was sin-binned for a professional foul in preventing a quick Rhinos play-the-ball.
Great defensive work from Leeds prevented the Saints from scoring on fourteen but Crowl went closer on nineteen, the Rhinos defence holding her up over the line.
On the next play Leah Burke somehow managed to take a grubber kick through from Zoe Harris and stoop to miraculously ground between her feet. Beth Stott was unable to add the extras, but Saints had a 4-0 lead in what looked like it would be a tight game.
A late tackle by Chantelle Crowl on twenty-five saw her lucky not to get yellow carded and on thirty-three, after a long pause for treatment on the field, Leeds’ Sophie Nuttall was stretchered off after going down heavily while making a tackle.
It had been a very close first half, in spite of the Saints being heavy favourites pre-match, but a runaway solo try from Jodie Cunningham, weaving her way through the Leeds defence from the half-way line to score under the sticks, doubles Saints lead. This time Stott added the extras, Saints 10-0 ahead at the interval.
Saints put one hand on the trophy on fifty-six when Burke again grounded a Harris grubber kick to the corner, getting one hand on the ball a fraction before it hit the touchline. The conversion attempt dipped under the crossbar.
Within two minutes a breakaway try from Amy Hardcastle, breaking the Leeds line on half way and going fifty metres to score twenty from the left upright. Stott was unable to add the extras again, but the Rhinos were now three converted tries from drawing level.
Zoe Harris broke the Leeds line on sixty-seven off a short pass from Cunningham for a walk-in try from ten metres out. This time Stott added the conversion for 24-0, the engraver already beginning his work.
Cunningham was again the provider, this time for Dani Bush, as she went down the left edge to score on the overlap. Stott couldn’t add the extra two from the touchline, but the Rhinos heads were down.
It’s only fitting that the side who have dominated the season so comprehensively, lift the trophy and complete an amazing treble of Grand Final, League Leader and Challenge Cup winners in front of a record crowd of over four thousand. Leeds made a game of it for the first forty minutes but the conceding of a try on the interval cost them dear. Saints are Grand Final winners for the first time in their short history, completing a superb weekend for the club after the men’s win last night.
Saints: Woosey, Bush (T), Hardcastle (T), Roberts, Burke (2T), Stott (2G), Harris (T), Rudge I, Jones, Crowl, Rudge E, Williams, Cunningham (T, SB on 10). Subs: Rotherham, Whitfield, Birchall, Travis.
Leeds Rhinos: Beevers, Gaines, Goldthorp, Robinson, Nuttall, Butcher, Winfield-Hill, Stavley, Bennett, Hornby, Kerrigan, Frain, McCallion. Subs: Hulme, Murray, Priim, Lockwood.
Referee: Aaron Moore.
Score Progression: (SB), 4-0, 8-0, 10-0 : HT : 14-0, 18-0, 22-0, 24-0, 28-0 : FT.
Venue: Emerald Headingley, Leeds.