Lindsay Anfield hopes Grand Final win can turn York Valkyrie into a 'dominant force for years to come'
York, Women’s Super League leaders for successive seasons, finally added the big prize with a 16-6 win over the defending champions in front of a competition record crowd of 4,547 at their home stadium on Sunday.
It was a fitting finale to a season in which York lost only once, by a point to St Helens in a Challenge Cup semi-final.
They became the fourth different club to win the Super League title in the past five seasons and a delighted Anfield stressed: “I don't want to win one and then disappear.”
She said: “We've got a great group of girls, they are really young and we've just got to kick on and make sure we stay a dominant force for years to come.”
Rhinos also defeated York in the 2022 Super League decider and Anfield admitted to feeling “relief, more than anything” when the final whistle blew on Sunday.
“When you get beaten twice in the Grand Final it hangs over you,” she stated. “You try to think of everything to make sure it doesn't happen again and this whole season has been building to this point, to make sure we had the composure and the patience when it came around.”
Rhinos finished third in the league and were beaten Challenge Cup finalists at Wembley two months ago and Anfield added: “Leeds can always turn it on in finals, it's just the thing they do.
“We are pleased to get the monkey off our back. When Leeds played St Helens in the semi-final, people were saying ‘who do you want to play’? We all said Leeds - we need to play Leeds and we need to beat Leeds, finally. We have done and hopefully it will wipe that clean and we can start again next year.”
York led 8-0 at the interval, through tries by Tamzin Renouf and Tara-Jane Stanley. Leeds replied with a penalty goal from Ruby Enright and applied heavy pressure for a spell, but their errors were punished as Lacey Owen’s touchdown and two Stanley goals extended the gap to 14 points.
Rhinos scored a consolation try following the hooter, Caitlin Casey shooting through a gap after York’s players abandoned any attempt at defence and began celebrating. With the party in full swing, Leeds didn’t bother with a conversion attempt.
Their coach Lois Forsell conceded: “We are disappointed with the performance. We made some errors; not turning the ball over on our terms and not taking our chances when they came. They are things that mean you don’t get a win in a Grand Final, so they hurt us.”
York Valkyrie: Stanley, Hetherington, Roberts, Renouf, Kershaw, Rihari, Gale, Akpa, Peach, Staveley, Owen, Andrade, Wood. Subs Bell, Marshall, Hyde (not used), Sanderson.
Leeds Rhinos: Enright, Nuttall, Hardcastle, Beevers, Robinson, Butcher, Casey, Hornby, Bennett, Northrop, Murray, Greening, Dainton. Subs Earnshaw-Cudjoe, Glynn, Lockwood, Sykes.
Referee: Liam Rush (Dewsbury/Batley).