Saint Helens Ladies marched into the Women’s Super League Grand Final with a totally dominant display in the first match of a televised semi-final double header at their own Totally Wicked Stadium.
Saints opened the scoring within two minutes when army sergeant Carrie Roberts powered through the Cas defence after just two minutes.
The touchline conversion was missed, though, for a 4-0 lead
The favourites had come up with the chance after pouncing on a loose ball when the Tigresses dropped a pass just mid-way through the game’s opening set.
But that was all the reward Saints got for an opening 10 minutes of one-way pressure, and then the still-rebuilding Castleford team began to make more of a game of it.
But Chantelle Crowl restored St Helens’ dominance with a break from first receiver and a clear run 20 metres to the line. They were unfortunate again with the conversion attempt, which bounced back off the upright.
Tara Jones added to the score with just over quarter of an hour gone. Jody Cunningham broke the line and offloaded, though by the time the ball reached Jones just one metre from the line she had three defenders to beat, which she did with a strong twist, turn and power through.
Again, the conversion was unsuccessful.
Saints captain Cunningham scored Saints fourth try on 20 minutes, for a 16-0 lead. The only good news for the Tigresses was that Bethany Stott’s kicking boots still seemed to be misfiring on the touchline conversions
Leah Burke made it 20-0 for the hosts when Ellie Lamb hesitated to catch a high ball into the corner and Burke pounced to ground it. A change of kicker still couldn’t get a successful conversion for Saints.
Castleford finally crossed the Saints line after half an hour but Jasmine Cudjoe was held up and the attack then petered out when the Tigresses game away a penalty for obstruction on the next play.
Inevitably, Cunningham promptly added the next score for Saints, ghosting through tackles and sprinting for the line. And then Zoe Harris kicked the hosts’ first conversion to lead 26-0.
Crowl brought up Saint’s 30 next to the posts just before half time, and Harris made it 32-0 at the break.
Two uncommon Saints errors at the start of the second half gifted Castleford possession and their best attacking chances of the game so far, concluding with a forced drop-out by Saints. But the Hosts’ defence held the line and promptly pushed out.
In line with the game so far, Tara Jones of St Helens grabbed the first score of the second half, scooping on a dropped Castleford pass and racing away to dot the ball down. Harris converted to take the score to 38-0.
Paige Travis made it 42-0 just a minute later, followed by Harris’s kick for a 44-0 lead.
Burke then added her second in the corner after a classy passing move by the Saints on the right, but Harris couldn’t bring up the half-century with her boot.
Worse news for Castleford when a play-maker Jasmin Cudjoe was forced off after 66 minutes with a head injury, knocking herself out in a tackle on the Red Vee’s Amy Hardcastle.
Fullback Rachel Woosey brought up the 50 mark when she crossed in the 72nd minute. Harris’s kick brought the score to 54-0 against a visibly tired Castleford side.
Burke added another in the corner, running onto sharp pass for her hat trick and a 58-0 score.
St Helens Ladies: Woosey (T), Bush, Haradcastle, Roberts (T), Burke (3T); Stott, Harris (5G); I Rudge, Jones (2T), Crowl (T), Travis (T), Williams, Cunningham (T). Replacements: Whitfield, Akrigg, Birchall, Sandham.
Castleford Tigers Women: Stanley, Lamb, Dodd, Wallace, Varley; Waters, Eastwood; Watts, Cudjoe, Duffield, Lumley, Hoyle, Bell. Replacements: Backhouse, Priestley, Hirst, Owen.
Referee: Jack Smith
Half Time: 32-0.
Full Time: 58-0.
Score Progression: 0-0, 4-0, 8-0, 12-0, 16-0, 20-0, 24-0, 26-0, 30-0, 32-0. Half Time. 36-0, 38-0, 42-0, 44-0, 48-0, 52-0, 4-0, 58-0. Full Time.
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens.