BY SEBASTIAN STERNIK
In what proved to be a highly entertaining clash at Willowbridge Lane, Thatto Heath St. Helens ran out 12-34 winners against a youthful Castleford side.
Thatto, who are the current European Champions, took the lead early when Tara Stanley exposed a gap down the right wing to put her side in front.
The visitors kept up the pressure and five minutes later they led 0-8 when Alex Simpson also touched down on the right wing.
Castleford began to find their feet and looked for a response. After a good spell of possession they went on the offensive and began to open up the current domestic champions.
The home side moved the ball from right to left and when Katie Hepworth found Shanelle Mannion down the left wing, she had acres of space to get over the try line and make the score 4-8.
Before this game, Thatto hadn’t played a competitive game for six weeks however, their lack of playing time was no match for their vast level of experience as they were able to close out the first half well.
First, Jodie Cunningham picked out Tara Stanley down the left wing for her second try of the match. Then, Cunningham produced another assist when her pass found Faye Gaskin who was able to touch down under the sticks and go into half-time 4-18 ahead.
After the restart Castleford were quick out of the blocks. In the first few minutes Katie Hepworth picked up the ball and ran inside out the Thatto defence to score her second try in two games against the European champions.
But once again, Thatto were quick to respond and soon they reinstated their 14 point lead. Jenny Welsby picked out Naomi Williams who burst through the centre to score. Stanley then extended the visitors lead by kicking the first of her two successful conversions. Only moments later, Williams crossed the line again as Thatto took an 8-30 lead.
However, Castleford were quick to pick themselves up and were soon awarded for their resilience when Georgie Hetherington scored her fifth try in just three games. Maisie Birdsall intercepted a pass and rushed through the centre before Hetherington received possession and touched down on the left flank.
Time was running out nevertheless, Thatto still managed to get one more try. A superb grubber kick from Welsby into the path of Rachel Thompson produced the try of the game as the visitors took the two points back to Lancashire with a 12-34 win.
After the game, Castleford’s head coach, Lindsay Anfield, said:
“We came into this game off the back of a few wins however, these were wins where we hadn’t played particularly well.
“Today I asked the girls for a big performance, to carry out what we did in training and for better game management. Every player, 1 to 20, turned up and put in a good shift. Although the scoreline wasn’t in our favour, against a great team in Thatto, we really competed today.”
Thatto’s head coach, Marc Simon, also shared his thoughts on his side’s victory. You can listen to his interview in the link below.
Next up for Castleford Tigers Ladies is a trip away to Stanningley while Thatto welcome the current Challenge Cup holders, Wigan St. Patricks, for a highly anticipated clash in Lancashire.
You can find more exclusive interviews on Castleford Tigers Ladies YouTube channel. This includes post-match interviews with Kerry Greenfield, Jasmine Rowley and Thatto’s skipper, Jodie Cunningham.