Women’s Super League Grand Final: York City Knights v Leeds Rhinos

Sam Hulme’s disappointment summed up Leeds’ frustrations after the 2021 defeat
Place: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens Date: Sunday 18 September Kick-off: 15:30 BST Coverage: Commentary on BBC local radio

Leeds Rhinos’ 2021 grand final disappointment is just one of many motivations for Sunday’s Women’s Super League decider with York, says boss Lois Forsell.

St Helens won the final in 2021 to deny Forsell and her players the title.

However, Saints were beaten by Leeds in the semi-finals to set up Sunday’s date with York at St Helens Stadium.

“It’s a long off-season if you go from a final not victorious,” Forsell told BBC Radio Leeds.

“The girls will still remember it, but they’re taking it practice by practice, game by game.

“They don’t want to read too much into it, it’s about focusing on the now and the job at hand and the hard work that’s been put in.”

Forsell and opposite number Lindsay Anfield will make history as the first female coaching match in this competition.

Knowledge of big games

Leeds’ position as one of the elite clubs in the Women’s Super League has been built through winning trophies and participating in major finals.

They won back-to-back Challenge Cups between 2018 and 2019, were treble winners in 2018 and double winners with the Women’s Super League crown in 2019.

However, this success in 2019 was their last trophy, as defeats by Saints in the Grand Final and Challenge Cup have followed since.

York, on the other hand, are a side still in their infancy, having recruited a new side heavily following Anfield’s arrival in 2021, with several of her successful Castleford side following her to the LNER Stadium.

“It’s good that our girls are familiar with being there,” Rhinos boss Forsell added.

“They’ve been there, they know what they’re going to experience. But I wouldn’t read too much into it with York.

“They have a lot of girls who have played in Grand Finals with other teams.”

York binding is a powerful factor

Savannah Andrade
York’s team spirit was evident in their semi-final win over Wigan

Anfield’s recruitment has seen a side of English-standard talent gel remarkably quickly, with further tweaks and additions made.

Hollie Dodd was one of the Castleford stars to add to the mix and she is one of three Knights players up for the Woman of Steel alongside Tara Jane Stanley and Sinead Peach.

Savannah Andrade came in from Bradford, and has been another key figure for the Knights having previously won the league and cup at the Bulls.

“We’re just so close and tight together and it feels like we’ve been together for ages,” she told BBC Radio York.

“I don’t think we realize what level we’re on after being together for such a short time.”

The increased anticipation and focus on a grand final, added to the wider exposure of the women’s game, means players and coaches are under greater media scrutiny.

It can be a distraction for players just trying to get into gameday mode.

“You just have to stay focused,” Andrade added.

“If you go in there with a different mindset, you’re probably going to play differently and we’re just going to play as well as we’ve done the rest of the season.

“It doesn’t feel any different training, we don’t want to look at it as a high-pressure game or different from any of our other games because that’s when we could crack.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.