Saints women’s bid to reach their maiden Grand Final comes to a devastating halt as Abby Eatock’s last-gasp try stuns the hosts.
Tries from Paige Travis, Zoe Harris and Leah Burke gave the home side a convincing 14-point lead late in the first half, but four unanswered Rhinos scores sealed stunning playoff success.
Confidence can be your 14th player in Rugby League and after an exceptional run of form, Dec Hardman’s side had it in abundance.
Saints Women entered into this playoff clash with Leeds on a fine run of form, winning a massive eight-games in a row – which included a 20-14 victory over league leaders shield winner’s, Castleford.
This excellent run looked likely to continue when the home side took the lead. Emily Rudge was able to feed Travis to open the Saints’ scoring with just three minutes gone.
These two sides have already met three times this season in league and cup. With one win a-piece and a 20-20 draw, we knew that we were in for a treat, and we got exactly that.
After their early lapse of concentration, Leeds began to grow into the game and a tightly-contested 20-minute spell ensued.
That was until the 24th minute when Saints added two more in an unbelievable five-minute spell.
Burke replicating the first try as she dived over before Harris powered her way through the Rhinos defence to give the Saints a 14-point cushion.
However, the home side could not stretch that advantage and a try either side of half-time gave the Rhinos a life-line.
First, Eatock was able to claim her first of the afternoon after powering through the Saints defence. Then, five minutes after the restart, Courtney Hill ghosted through unchallenged to cut the host’s lead down to six.
New-found momentum in the Leeds camp slowly became costly for the Saints. As we entered the final quarter, Hill’s high-kick was not dealt with and Charlotte Booth was able to pick up the loose ball and slide over.
And when Hill added another two-points from the kicking tee with just six minutes to go, we looked to have an exciting climax.
That excitement was warranted. Just minutes from the end, Eatock claimed her second to complete a stunning 18-14 victory for the Rhinos.
Adam Cuthbertson’s side will now face Castleford on Friday after the Tigers dismantled Wigan. As for Saints, time-off, pre-season and then it will start all over again.