Women’s RL: Former champions start as they mean to go on, Grand Finalists claim spoils in derby and Saints score 80

After over a year of waiting and months of anticipation the Women’s Super League is back. Four teams compete today in the race to hit the top four tier of the WSL. After almost 18 months of no games and large periods of zoom and internet sessions, we women can finally cross the white line.

Starting the day was a blockbuster clash between rivals Warrington and Wigan in front of record numbers live on twitch.

Prior to kick off both teams lined up for the one minute silence for his royal highness the duke of Edinburgh and a further 13 seconds to acknowledge discrimination in sport. With the RFL’S CEO Ralph Rimmer and England’s head coach Craig Richards watching on.

Both teams looked eager at the start but it was evident that Wigan turned up with a thirst for victory. An early hattrick from Wigan’s Georgia Wilson that quickly evolved into a 5 try haul sealed the victory for the Warriors by a final score of 52-8.

Wigan Warriors Head Coach Kris Ratcliffe was pleased with the way his side returned to action after such a long lay-off: “First and foremost its important to get girls back out there after the 18 months and countless sessions we needed to put into practice all we have done. Credit due to the women, we came out strong we have trained hard for it, with plenty of energy and we came out prepared to work for each other. We did have some slight errors that we will work on at training this week. I’m proud of the win and especially of Georgia Wilson with her solid 5 tries, she seals the Woman on the Match for me.

At the same time as the former Super League Champions were thrashing their local rivals, last year’s runners-up did the same to their rivals. They ploughed through Featherstone and claimed a 40-6 win. Later in the afternoon the team that beat Cas in last year’s Grand Final, Champions Leeds, toppled York by a resounding score line of 68-16.

Meanwhile, St Helens laid down a real marker with a resounding 86-0 win over Bradford to conclude the weekend.

Head Coach Derrick Hardman commended his side’s ability to produce such a potent performance despite the long lay-off: “I’m happy in our performance, I thought we were very professional in what we did. To say that’s the first time in 18 months that we have been together as a team and to put a performance out like that I’m very pleased.

“For 18 months we haven’t missed a beat and we have worked so hard, as soon as we were allowed, we started training as groups as 6 sometimes for up to 3 hours and then once we were allowed to train as a team, we were back at it more some. The team have dug out over lockdown and this is cemented by the efforts of all the team today.”

He was also quick to identify the impact of the new girls in the team: “For Amy Hardcastle it allowed her to be a part of a team as opposed to carrying one, we spoke at great lengths when she moved over and it was clear to see she needed that support network as opposed to being expected to carry the team, equally we have the same strengths in Carrie Roberts this being proved by scoring a Hat trick on her Saints debut.”

But unsurprisingly it was the impressive Jodie Cunningham – who has caught the eye in recent weeks with her analysis on BBC and Sky Sports – who really stood out for Hardman: “I thought Jodie Cunningham played outstanding as did Faye Gaskin.”