Inaugural Women’s Nines event provides thrills as five clubs book place in finals

By IAN GOLDEN

After an enthralling day-long event at Victoria Park in Warrington on Sunday, five sides qualified for the finals of the inaugural RFL Women’s Rugby League Nines.

A “wildcard” side for the six-team event on July 24 at Salford Red Devils is yet to be decided, but it’s likely to be the host for the finals day, as they just lost out in Group D to Huddersfield Giants, 24-14 in the group’s final game, after both sides won their opening encounters against Castleford Tigers and Oulton Raiderettes.

The other four group winners were St Helens, Leeds Rhinos, Catalans Dragons and York City Knights.

On a day that included music, mentoring sessions for young players, plenty of food and drink to buy, all three Rugby League World Cup trophies were on display. Played over three pitches, it was a well-attended event, with the Rugby Football League pulling out all the stops to entertain.

All twelve Betfred Super League clubs, plus eight other invited sides, competed in five groups, with the NRL and International Rugby League Nines rules being used, meaning that a try under the sticks was worth five points.

Catalans showed their flair by hammering Hull FC 35-0 and edging past Wigan 18-10 before easily beating Wakefield Trinity 33-4. The three English sides all beat each other, showing competitiveness in Super League, but being unable to keep up with the French.

Three sides from the six who took part in last year’s inaugural Super League South warmed up for their second campaign this year with some interesting results.

Cardiff Demons, last year’s Super League South champions, were in Group E, and they made an excellent start by seeing off Leigh Miners 19-4 and Bradford Bulls 29-4. York City Knights were equal to the Welsh as they beat Bradford 26-0 and Leigh 8-0 and that set up things for the group’s final match, which was just one challenge too much for Cardiff as the Challenge Cup semi-finalists won 26-0.

London Broncos, who were beaten in the Super League South semi-finals last year, eased past Warrington Lunas, and Featherstone Rovers, with just a five-minute break between the matches.

Their final match, yet another group decider, with Leeds Rhinos, who didn’t concede a point in their first two encounters, was tightly contested. Leeds were just 5-0 up at half-time, and whilst London did become the first side to score against them, the Rhinos won 18-4.

Tom Brindle, head of growth at the RFL, said: “The Rugby League Nines has been a fantastic success.

“We’ve seen some fantastic results, especially the Catalans Dragons, who we will see in the finals later in the year.

“The inspirational sessions also lived up to their name. There has been some real engagement with the young fans and parents, with the stars of our games.”

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