St Helens win Women’s Challenge Cup after Eboni Partington sinks Leeds

St Helens successfully defended the Women’s Challenge Cup as two tries from Eboni Partington helped them edge Leeds Rhinos in a thrilling final at Elland Road.

The two standout sides in the Women’s Super League delivered a compelling contest in front of the largest crowd to watch a game of women’s rugby league, with almost 6,000 people in attendance before the two men’s Challenge Cup semi-finals later in the afternoon.

With the score finely poised at 8-8 heading into the final quarter, a missed penalty from Leeds’s Courtney Winfield-Hill kept the game level and Saints took their opportunity with two tries to secure the cup.

The outstanding Jodie Cunningham forced her way over the line from close range to nudge Derek Hardman’s side ahead for the first time. Then, with three minutes remaining, Partington added to her earlier try by converting in the corner following a superb pass from Amy Hardcastle.

It means St Helens retain their position as the dominant force in the women’s game and their quest for a second successive treble remains intact. The valiant Rhinos led in the early stages when Georgia Roche’s pass led to Zoe Hornby breaking the deadlock, but St Helens soon hit back when Zoe Harris’s kick found Leah Burke.

St Helens’ Eboni Partington scores her second try against Leeds.
St Helens’ Eboni Partington scores her second try against Leeds. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA

Beth Stott dragged the conversion wide to keep Saints behind by two, before Winfield-Hill landed a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time to move Leeds into an 8-4 lead. Partington’s try after an error from Tasha Gaines brought the scores level, before Winfield-Hill spurned a glorious chance to put Leeds back in front with 15 minutes remaining.

Saints made the Rhinos and Winfield-Hill pay when Cunningham forced her way through a gap to move them ahead, before Partington sealed victory in the closing moments.