Tigers win a thriller against York

Posted: Sunday 30th May 2021 - 10:18 PM

It was just over a week since the two sides met in the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup, where the Knights put on a big performance winning 32-4 at the LNER Stadium in York to progress to the final, so this match presented a chance to get a little bit of revenge for the Tigers.

It was a high-quality start to the game with no errors from either side and both working their sets well and strong tackles on show. The first threat came from Cas with Eva Izumi finding a bit of space off a short side play on the left, she threw a pass inside to Georgia Roche, but it was knocked on, however that left side would prove fruitful again minutes later.

With York back near their own line there was a numbers advantage on for Castleford’s left edge which Jasmine Cudjoe spotted, a late pass to Hollie Dodd allowed her to crash into the corner. Tara-Jane Stanley appeared to be back to her best throughout the game with darting runs aplenty, she was on kicking duties but unfortunately did not convert any of the kicks to get some justly deserved points for her efforts.

Around the twenty-minute mark York had been building pressure with a six-again call near the try line but had been kept out. A penalty for a ball strip gave the Knights more good ball position with former Tiger Rhiannion Marshall trying to power her way over but being held up, but at the play of the ball, another former Cas player scooted through a large defensive gap to level the game.

Castleford turned the pressure back on York moving them onto their own line, another left edge play worked well gave Hollie Dodd the ball and she was being tackled she twisted and grounded the ball for her second try of the game. It’s been a superb start to the 2021 season for Dodd who often looks dangerous on the left-edge.

With York looking to strike right back quickly the Fords’ defence had to be sharp, a couple of sets near their own line looked threatening but Cas kept making their tackles count ahead of the break. Some frustration crept in for the Knights after coming away from the line without scoring with Marshall pushing her elbow in one of the Tigers' faces whilst making a tackle and then losing her side another 10m for dissent. The Tigers made the most of this and pushed for a third score, passing hands right to give the ball to Kaitlin Varley who dived into the corner for her first try as a Castleford player and gave the Fords a 4-12 lead at half time.

The opening period of the second half was a story of kick-offs, errors from both proving costly, firstly York’s starting the half kick bounced awkwardly with no Cas player calling out for it, York took it and Marshall crashed over the line but missed the conversion. Tigers kicked to restart, and York failed to get it before bouncing out of the field of play, allowing Cas the ball. Georgia Roche then did what is fast becoming her trademark, spotting a defender moving back late and sliding into the short side to score in the left corner.

With the sun beaming down on Weetwood Sports Park the heat might have begun causing errors for both teams. Another short-range power-over try for Marshall, which she converted, brought the Knights firmly back into the game. It became a nervy affair as the game drew on with chances becoming premium. Roche tried chipping and chasing with no luck before Varley attempted to grab her second score, it took some great Knights scramble defence to push her out as she looked to dive in. Peach for York looked to score from a scoot again but knocked on at the grounding, a warning sign for the Tigers to defend their rucks more closely.

Tara-Jane Stanley made one of her great runs up the field, much to the relief of her teammates. With Cas in a good ball position halfback, Lucy Eastwood gave a little show and go to find space and plant the ball down and give Tigers a six-point advantage at 14-20. Stanley came close to making it more difficult for the Knights with a conversion, but it just moved in the wind.

York really began grinding to get to the line with roughly ten minutes left in the game, set after set near the whitewash eventually paid off for the Knights when Alisha Clayton strongly ran over to score, but the conversion was missed leaving Cas holding a two-point ball game. Unfortunately following that score Lucy Eastwood stayed down and had to leave the field on a stretcher, we hope Lucy is on the mend very soon.

The big, enforced break meant both teams had time to get their energy levels back up in the heat and set up a dramatic finish, big tackles being put in with Cas wanting to close out the game and York fighting to get back into it. Both sides completed their sets strongly to close out the 80 minutes until the referee blew the whistle.

Castleford secured an important win in a highly enthralling fixture, two more points for the league table, and just a small bit of revenge from the Cup semi-final one week earlier.

Full Time: York City Knight Ladies 18-20 Castleford Tigers Women

Tara-Jane Stanley, Kaitlin Varley, Lacey Owen, Hollie Dodd, Eva Izumi, Georgia Roche, Lucy Eastwood, Sammy Watts, Jasmine Cudjoe, Kirsty Duffield, Tilly Churm, Amie Backhouse, Jasmine Bell

Interchanges: Leah Jones, Libby Priestley, Sam Jordan, Courtney Pursglove

Tries: Dodd (2), Varley, Roche, Eastwood

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