Leeds Rhinos 64-6 Wigan Warriors
Georgia Roche returned from injury to inspire Leeds Rhinos to a dominant, eleven try display against Wigan Warriors, which put them within two points of table-toppers York.
The last game either side played was the reverse fixture at Robin Park at the start of the month, in which Zoe Hornby starred with a hat-trick for Leeds. Leeds won that game 48-12, and it was more of the same again in front of a packed South Stand on Thursday night.
The Rhinos also welcomed backed Tara Moxon for her first league appearance of the season on the wing, while Roche was partnered in the halves by Sam Hulme, with captain Courtney Winfield-Hill being unavailable due to work commitments.
Wigan, in search of only their second win of the season, handed a debut to new signing Lauréane Biville, while Victoria Molyneux was back in the side after a four-month injury lay-off.
In the absence of Winfield-Hill, Roche stood up to take control of the team and had a hand in Leeds’ opening score. After receiving the ball from Keara Bennett, she got the pass out to Hornby, who found a gap to open the scoring after 13 minutes.
That opened the floodgates, with three more tries coming in little over five minutes.
When Wigan were unable to deal with Hulme’s high, cross-field kick, Fran Goldthorp was on hand to take advantage to race in and double Leeds’s lead, before Bennett and Roche linked up once again to send the halfback over for her first of the night.
Her second, just moments later, came from a piece of individual brilliance. Bennett’s pass once again found Roche, who broke through the line and sidestepped the last Wigan defender to race in from 40 metres out.
At 24-0 down, Wigan’s heads could easily have dropped, but they stuck at it and thought they had a score of their own when, after back-to-back penalties, Beth Hayes went close. But the combined defensive effort of Bennett, Goldthorp and Aimee Staveley ensured she was held up and the Rhinos’ line remained intact.
It was the Rhinos, though, who had the final say in the first half with a quickfire double from Alex Barnes, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes.
Her first came when a neat offload by Hornby close to the Wigan line put her in, before Hulme’s pass just minutes later saw her cross again.
Hulme’s 100 per cent record with the boot meant the Rhinos went into the break 36-0 up.
There was little let up in the second half, with Hornby taking another great pass from Roche to claim her second of the night just five minutes after the restart.
In a night of doubles, Sophie Robinson soon got in to the act with two tries of her own out on the right wing. Hulme failed to convert the first of these in her only miss of the night.
Despite the game clearly going away from them, Wigan didn’t throw the towel in and got themselves on the scoreboard when Rebecca Greenfield’s pass found Mary Coleman, who slotted through a small gap in the Leeds defence to touch down under the posts with Sinead Doria adding the conversion.
The Rhinos were not done though and they finished off with two more tries with Dannielle Anderson going in on her birthday and Bennett getting a well-deserved try on the back of a Goldthorp break.
WARRINGTON WOLVES and BARROW RAIDERS continue to keep pace with each other at the top of Group Two, with both teams picking up impressive wins on Sunday.
The Wolves, who also had a team playing in the Women’s Nines finals at Salford, all but had their game against BRADFORD BULLS wrapped up by half-time.
Two tries apiece for Dani Bound and Georgia Sutherland, as well as scores from Michelle Davies, who also kicked four first-half goals, and Katie May Williams meant the Wolves were 32-0 up at the break.
Emily Baggaley, Fern Davies, who finished off a 50-metre break, Sutherland, who crossed twice to finish with four tries for the afternoon, and Georgia Westwood touched down in the second half, with Michelle Davis converting four of those efforts to make it 60-0 at Victoria Park.
Emily Stirzaker starred for the Raiders as they condemned WAKEFIELD TRINITY to a 68-4 defeat.
The game was only six minutes old when Stirzaker, who won Super League with Wigan Warriors in 2018, got the scoring underway, before Sarah Wilkinson soon added to the lead.
A quickfire double from Sam Norman, the second of which was converted by Jodie Litherland, had put the hosts 18-0 up before Trinity hit back through a Kacey Davies try.
But from then on it was one-way traffic for the hosts with Stirzaker and Vanessa Temple adding further tries before the break, with Litherland notching another conversion to make it 28-4.
There was no let up after the restart as Mia Dobson touched down before Stirzaker completed her hat-trick. Claire Hutchinson scored either side of Norman’s third, before Wilkinson and Temple both got their second of the afternoon.
Stirzaker wrapped things up with her fourth try just minutes from the final hooter, with Litherland adding her sixth conversion.
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS remain two points behind the joint leaders thanks to a 38-4 win at CASTLEFORD TIGERS.
Sustained pressure on the Tigers defence in the opening ten minutes eventually paid off for Rovers when Zoe Teece crossed from close range, followed just minutes later by Hannah Watt spinning over to increase the lead.
With this Featherstone found their groove and Shanelle Mannion, Nat Carr and Teece all crossed before the break, with two Fran Copley conversions making it 24-0.
Six minutes after the restart a brilliant step through from Chloe Smith got Castleford on the scoreboard, but they were unable to add to it, before Brogan Kennedy, twice, and Copley, who also landed a third goal, added to Rovers’ total.
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