First-class final will give women's game a boost says Cuthbertson

CHALLENGE CUP-WINNING coach Adam Cuthbertson reckons women's rugby league is set to go from strength to strength.

Action from women's Challenge Cup final between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers.
Action from women's Challenge Cup final between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers.

Cuthbertson’s Leeds Rhinos side lifted a trophy in their first season with a thrilling 20-14 victory over Castleford Tigers at Warrington’s HJ Stadium in what he said was a “a great advertisement for the game and a great way to build the game.”

Tigers’ young team pushed Leeds all the way and Cuthbertson enthused: “It puts bums on seats seeing rugby league like that and hopefully come the back end of the season, when the semi-finals and Grand Final kick off, it’ll continue to bring people through the gates.”

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Rhinos trailed 14-6 after an error-ridden first half, but the tables were turned in the final 40 minutes.

Leeds Rhinos women's team coach Adam Cuthbertson.

“We’ve got a lot of girls who haven’t played to this standard prior to this year,” Cuthbertson reflected.

“They’ve been playing all this season, but when you get to a final it’s a different story.

“The message at half-time was quite clear, you’ve just got to cut out the errors, stop giving field position to the opposition and hold your nerve.

“The answers were in our team and it was a matter of going out and believing in that process.

“It was a matter of sticking at what we are good at and we got it right in the end.”

Rhinos had the more experienced squad and Cuthbertson felt that was crucial in the closing stages.

“I thought Cas were great,” he added. “They have a young team and that’s good because it means the competition is going to get stronger.

“They will be better for the experience of playing in a final and likewise us.”

Tigers coach Lindsay Anfield was proud of her players, but felt they let the final slip from their grasp after half-time. She said: “Neither of the halves went to plan, but we went in at half-time and I think maybe we thought we’d got it.

“As much as I tried to tell them we hadn’t, they were just a little complacent from the kick-off and then we were always chasing.

“It is disappointing, but with the age they are this was a really good experience and we’ll all learn a lot from it, regardless of the score.

“I am happy with what they’ve done, to be fair.”