Wembley pain spurs Sophie Robinson as Leeds Rhinos bid to retain Women’s Super League title

LEEDS RHINOS’ semi-final match-winner Sophie Robinson is ready to see the side step up once again and retain their Super League title.

Having already missed out on a trophy this season with defeat in the Challenge Cup Final and a third-place finish in the league, the Rhinos have one last shot at glory this year, and if they can beat York in Sunday’s Grand Final, it would see them become the first back-to-back winners of the Women’s Super League.

The Rhinos have hit a bit of form since their Wembley defeat, beating St Helens twice in that time, with Robinson confident that the best is yet to come.

“That semi-final win does give us a lot of confidence ahead of the final,” Robinson told League Express.

“We know it will be a tough game against York, but we have been building towards this since the Challenge Cup defeat. 

“We know we didn’t play our best that day, but we know what we’ve got and we know what we’re capable of. We’ve still not hit our best yet, and hopefully can do that in the final. 

“That Challenge Cup defeat hurt, but that has spurred me on. I don’t want to feel that way again and think it is the same for most of the other girls. 

“We know we are capable of much more than what we showed at Wembley, you saw that against Saints in the semi-final, but there is still more to come and hopefully you’ll see that on Sunday.

“It would be a huge achievement to go out and defend that title. We have faced some tough competition to get here, but we want to make history and win it back to back.

“I think we’re on the right track to do that, so hopefully we can do what we need to to get that win.”

Robinson scored twice in the Rhinos’ 20-16 semi-final victory against St Helens, with her second coming two minutes into golden-point extra time to seal the Rhinos’ spot in the final.

Both tries came off the back of perfectly-weighted Caitlin Casey kicks into the in-goal area, but Robinson admits she wasn’t always sure her match-winning moment would happen.

“Yeah they were important tries, but it was just about being in the right place,” added Robinson.

“We’ve been doing a lot of practice with CC (Casey) and her kicking, so I knew I just had to hold my width and get it down over the whitewash. 

“The second one particularly was a great kick by Caitlin and when I set off I thought I’d left my run too late. But I got there and there was no one around me so all I had to do was get it down.

“Even when we were waiting for the video ref to give it I knew it would be given. I knew I wasn’t offside because I didn’t even think I’d make it.

“I was just absolutely buzzing to get the ball, get it down and get the win.”

The winger is also hopeful that a win on Sunday could be the first achievement in a week of celebrations for the club.

Hooker Keara Bennett is on the six-woman shortlist for the Woman of Steel prize, while Casey has been nominated for Young Player of the Year.

Both players will find out next Tuesday night (October 10) if they have fought off the rest of the competition to claim those individual prizes.

“It is definitely deserved that Keira is up for the Woman of Steel award,” added Robinson.

“I think a few girls could have been nominated as well, and that just shows the talent we have across the whole competition.

“Hopefully we can now go on and get the win on Sunday, then follow that up with Keara and Caitlin winning their awards and we can enjoy a triple celebration.

“Caitlin has shown out there what a player she is. She was thrown in at the deep end this year and has become one of the best halves in the competition.

“When you look at where she was at the start of season to where she is now, you can see how much she’s developed. She leads us around the park and to do that at such a young age, it’s exciting to think where she’ll be in ten years.”