Battling Panthers book place in cup final

Brogan Churm scored the opening try.
Brogan Churm scored the opening try.

Newly-formed Castleford Panthers Ladies defied the odds to beat an established Crosfields team 12-4 to reach the Ladies’ Challenge Cup final.

Panthers, whose line up featured mainly 18 year olds, made a shaky start against Crosfields who fielded two England internationals but the Castleford side showed tremendous determination to master their opponents and the poor conditions.

With the forwards making good yards, Panthers went ahead when Brogan Churm finished a planned move to score a try that Sam Boyes goaled.

Churm soon crossed again but four defenders managed to prevent her grounding the ball.

Crosfields rallied but they were foiled by a strong Panthers defence, led by Nikki Harrison, Ellie Smith, Boyes and debutant full-back Jodie Davies who made two superb tackles .

Midway through the first half, 16-year-old Ellie Smith ghosted through for a try and Boyes converted to make it 12-0.

Ash Ward went desparately close to scoring from a clever kick shortly before half-time.

Crosfields scored in the second-half and quickly pressed again. They had six consecutive sets but were kept at bay by battling Panthers.

The Warrington side’s last chance of turning the game round ended when Smith made a crunching tackle that resulted in a Crosfields player having to leave the field.

This inspired Panthers who were unlucky not to score three more tries in the last 10 minutes.

Chances were misses when they lacked composure with the try line at their mercy.

Harrison won the overall player of the match award for her tremendous defensive work and clever prompting around the ruck.

The entire Panthers team deserved credit for their excellent workrate and positive attitude throughout.

They are likely to face favourites Bradford Thunderbirds in the final at Rochdale Mayfield on March 31.