Betfred WSL Preview | Play-Off Semi-Finals

25 Sep 21, 3:26PM 0 Comments

Written by Rugby Football League

This Sunday marks another historic first for the Betfred Women’s Super League, with the play-off semi-finals set to be shown live on Sky Sports for the very first time.

St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium will play host to a bruising double-header, with the host Saints taking on Castleford from 1:15pm, before Yorkshire rivals Leeds and York do battle from 3:30pm.

The Saints women are on course for a remarkable treble in 2021, after clinching the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup at Leigh Sports Village in June, before picking up the League Leaders Shield last weekend after dispatching fierce rivals Wigan 52-0.

They face a tough opponent in the Castleford Tigers, who have been Women’s Rugby League’s nearly team over the last couple of years – beaten in both the Challenge Cup Final and WSL Grand Final in 2019.

Saints’ Beth Stott told the Our League Preview Show:

“Everyone is fully focussed on this Sunday, we’re really good as a group – we know we’ve got to take one game at a time.

“There’s a lot of energy in training and a lot of excitement. It’s a televised game and a home fixture for us, so we’ll have a lot of friends and family in the crowd that’ll be there to support us.

“We need to get over this first play-off hurdle, beat this Castleford team and then kick on to the big one next month.”

Courtney Pursglove of the Castleford Tigers said:

“It’s anyone’s game. We’re really excited to see what happens.

“At the end of the day, it’s how much do you want it – we want to cause that upset and get the Grand Final.”

It’s then a local derby in semi-final number two, as the reigning champion Leeds Rhinos take on the new kids on the block – the York City Knights – in a game that should be memorable.

Leeds triumphed in the last WSL Grand Final in 2019 before the 2020 postponement for Covid but have not seen the same dominance they did before the pandemic, losing their Challenge Cup crown at the semi-final stage, so there will be a few hoping to right a few wrongs against a York team who have shown great signs in their first season of challenging in the WSL.

York were gallantly beaten by St Helens in June’s Challenge Cup Final, but have produced a number of eye-catching performances this season – not least in dispatching the Castleford Tigers 28-14 at LNER Community Stadium last weekend to secure their play-off place.

Kelsey Gentles of the York City Knights told the OL Preview Show:

“We’re buzzing. We’ve had two wins on the trot now against two big teams, and those didn’t come easily – we had to work really hard. That’s given us confidence going into Sunday, we’ve got that bit of belief in ourselves. We know we can play – we just have to perform on the day.

“Everyone has bought into what is going on here. All things considered, we’ve done really well this season, we didn’t know whether we’d be able to reach the top four, and now we’re heading into a play-off semi-final – that’s incredible for us.”

Leeds’ Danika Priim said:

“We’ve gone from having no television coverage at all, to having our semi-finals live on Sky – it’s ridiculous. I still have to pinch myself and say, ‘that’s me on the tele!’. The game has come such a long way with the backing of Betfred, and now all the girls feel the occasion is just that much bigger.”

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