Castleford Tigers Women are 80 minutes away from winning the club’s first Challenge Cup since 1986 following a crushing 48-12 victory over York City Knights in the semi-final (writes Sebastian Sternik).
Georgia Roche was the player of the match as her four tries helped the home side to their first major final, with Alex Wallace was also among the scorers for a third successive game.
The game began with a minute’s silence in the memory of Maxwell Clinton Blakeley. As the referee drew his first whistle, Castleford went straight on the attack and were soon rewarded as Roche crossed for her first of the game.
Moments later Katie Hepworth’s kick on the last tackle was dropped by York, gifting the ball to Sammy Watts who took full advantage. The good start continued with Lacey Owen going over the whitewash, earning the Tigresses a 16-0 lead on the 20 minute mark.
York responded with an effort completely against the run of play. A loose pass was collected by Ashleigh Hyde who sprinted over half the field to give the visitors their first points of the semi-final.
This did not seem to faze Castleford who went straight back on the offensive. Emma Lumley scored her first try since the opening game of the season while Roche went over for two more to complete her hat-trick.
With York 30-6 down they had nothing to lose after the break and piled on the pressure for a 15 minute spell.
But despite continuous attacks, the only player who managed to find a breakthrough was Bevlee Langan. The forward escaped the clutches of three Castleford players and crashed over the try line to give York hope.
Any belief that the Knights had was quickly extinguished. Gabby Harrison and Jasmine Cudjoe both scored their first tries of the season while Wallace set about continuing her incredible scoring run with another good finish.
Roche finished things in style with a last minute full lengther. The youngster picked up the ball deep in her own half and burst through to send Castleford into the final.
Head coach Lindsay Anfield said: “We are thrilled to get to the Challenge Cup final in only our second year as a club.
“We had a tough draw, having to beat cup holders Bradford and then two Super League sides in Saints and York. I feel we are worthy finalists.”
Castleford will now take on Leeds Rhinos in the final following their victory over Wigan Warriors.
Tigers’ top try scorer Tara Stanley said: “The final will be a huge challenge. Leeds thumped us at their place last month so we will need to up our game to compete with them.”
The final was originally scheduled to take place in Warrington on August 4. However, since both finalists are from West Yorkshire, the venue could be changed in order to better accommodate fans.