Women's Challenge Cup: St Helens face holders Leeds in semis

Caitlin Beevers
Caitlin Beevers has won the Challenge Cup with Leeds already in 2018

Leeds Rhinos face the toughest test in their defence of the Women's Challenge Cup on Sunday - against a St Helens team aiming to join their male counterparts in a triple header at the University of Bolton Stadium later this month.

Saints men will play Halifax in their semi-finals at the venue, which will follow the women's final and the opening last-four men's game between Warrington and Hull.

The Red Vee, coached by the former Bradford and Oldham forward Craig Richards, are braced for a tough test against a Leeds team who have scored 144 points without reply in the previous two rounds of the competition.

Their opponents Leeds are aiming to retain the trophy they won for the first time last year against Castleford Tigers in a stand-alone final at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium.

It is also a meeting of second and third - with Saints only kept off top spot by fellow semi-finalists Castleford.

"I'm rested and ready to go," said Rudge, who was on the bench for last Sunday's Super League victory against York City Knights.

"We haven't yet played Leeds this season, but we've seen them on the coverage of their Super League games and we know they'll definitely be fired up."

Rhinos winger Caitlin Beevers is only 17 but she has already won a Challenge Cup, played for her county Yorkshire and England, as well as officiating the Stephen Mullaney Cup final at Wembley before the men's cup final last season.

"We've prepared really well, not just on our own game but for what we can expect from St Helens too," she explained.

"Training sessions haven't been much different than for any other game and our final session before Sunday will be all about team-bonding.

"We won't overdo it, maybe just focus on our own individual contributions. Having the final at Bolton is fantastic for the women's game, whoever gets there."

The other semi-final - a West Yorkshire derby - puts strong favourites Castleford against Super League newcomers Wakefield Trinity.

The Tigers have dominated the Women's Super League season so far, much as St Helens have done the men's, winning all six of their matches and attracting a growing number of spectators, with a record attendance of 1,492 watching their Challenge Cup quarter-final victory over Bradford Bulls.

"We are very determined to make it through to the final and put things right after what happened 12 months ago," said the Tigers prop Sam Jordan. "And with the final taking place at Bolton it just gives us that little bit more motivation.

"If we play like we played against Bradford, or if we can replicate our first-half performance against Featherstone last week, that should be enough to see us through."

Coral Women's Challenge Cup semi-finals - Sunday, 7 July

St Helens v Leeds (Langtree Park, 12:30 BST)

Wakefield Trinity v Castleford Tigers (Belle Vue, 13:00 BST)

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