Castleford Tigers Women are set for a top of the table clash with fellow unbeaten team St Helens next after maintaining their ferocious start to the season with a 27-0 demolition of Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos.
A double from Kelsey Gentles plus further tries from Georgia Roche, Sinead Peach and former Leeds Rhinos star Rhiannion Marshall secured a memorable win in front of a record crowd of 703.
The game got off to an edgy start with both teams setting a frantic tempo in the early stages. The sheer pace of the match saw both Leeds and Castleford come up with a number of forced and unforced errors, which added to the already tense atmosphere.
However, it was the Tigresses who found their feet first as they went close twice before opening the scoring as Kelsey Gentles slid across the line for the first try.
Leeds came back strongly, but a big defensive effort from the Tigers ensured the Rhinos were kept firmly out.
On the 24 minutes it was Marshall’s turn to get on the scoresheet. The former Leeds player used her size and strength to barge her way through the heart of the Rhinos defence.
Her effort was converted by Tara Stanley to give the hosts a 10-0 lead.
Moments later Stanley was in the spotlight once more as on the last tackle of a Castleford set, the full-back took an unusual decision to go for the drop-goal. Following a successful attempt, the Tigresses took an 11-0 lead into the break.
Rhinos had their backs against the wall early in the second period as the hosts looked for more points. However, as soon as Leeds weathered the storm, it was their turn to threaten.
Despite having chances, the visitors lacked a clinical edge to finish their opportunities off. This proved yet more costly when another Marshall run opened the door for Sinead Peach to score.
Just four minutes later, the Tigresses expanded their lead even further as Woman of Steel Georgia Roche produced some fancy footwork to get away from the Rhinos defence and get over the whitewash.
Then with 10 minutes remaining, Gentles scored her second down the left edge to secure the two points.
Speaking after the game, Tigresses head coach Lindsay Anfield said: “I’m really pleased that we managed to keep their score to zero, but I still think our performance needs a bit of polishing and a bit of work.
“In the first half we were really nervous and sluggish – we were struggling to complete our sets.
“I gave them a bit at half-time and they came out all guns blazing so I was certainly a lot more pleased with the second half.”
Castleford aimed to break the record for the highest attendance in a stand-alone Women’s Super League game. With 703 fans turning out at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, the club missed out on that accolade. However, this was still the highest attendance for a Castleford Tigers Women’s home game.
Next up for the team is a huge home clash with St Helens. Both teams are unbeaten so far in the Women’s Super League, meaning somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go when they meet on Sunday, May 12.