Header photo courtesy Rugby Football League

Champions fall to defeat in first game of the season

Nerves before kick off, tears at the final whistle…the first big derby game between Bradford and Leeds women’s team was a rollercoaster of emotions.

As Bradford entered the stadium the supporters clapped and sang ‘championes’, a fitting welcome for a team that went all last season unbeaten.

This season though… well it didn’t get off to the best of starts for the title holders.

Leeds shot into a first half lead with tries by Rhiannon Marshall, two from Lois Forsell, and Suze Hill, leaving Bradford trailing 22-0 before they found their stride. They hit back in the second quarter with touchdowns by Leah Jones and Amy Hardcastle, who was later stretchered off with suspected knee ligament damage. With the half time score 22-12, the Bulls felt confident they could build on their late momentum.

WATCH: Leeds captain Lois Forsell meets delighted fans after the game

Nerves before kick off, tears at the final whistle…the first big derby game between Bradford and Leeds women’s team was a rollercoaster of emotions.

As Bradford entered the stadium the supporters clapped and sang ‘championes’ a fitting welcome for a team that went all last season unbeaten.

This season though… well it didn’t get off to the best of starts for the title holders.

Leeds shot into a first half lead with tries by Rhiannon Marshall, two from Lois Forsell and Suze Hill, leaving Bradford trailing 22-0 before they found their stride. They hit back in the second quarter with touchdowns by Leah Jones and Amy Hardcastle, who was later stretchered off with suspected knee ligament damage. With the half time score 22-12, the Bulls felt confident they could build on their late momentum.

However, Leeds were first on the board after the break with a try from Amy Johnson and the visitors seemed happy to settle on that lead. Bradford never gave up though and had a sustained period of attack, with multiple sets on the Rhinos line. Steadfast defence though kept them out until Kirsty Moroney finally breached the line.

Charlotte Booth finished off the scoring on the 75th minute, securing the 32-16 win for Leeds in their first ever game.

It’s been a learning curve for the Rhinos women, whose teams featured several ex Bradford players including Lois Forsell, captain. Like most of the Super League sides in this year’s competition the close season has been a time for recruiting and some of the players were experiencing league for the first time.

The coach Adam Cuthbertson may be a seasoned player, but this is his first foray into coaching. In the build up to this win he’s made no secret of the fact that he has pushed the girls hard in pre-season.

“Everything that we practiced at training came off. Especially in defence, which had an effect on our offence too. They’ve got a standard to live up to now for the rest of the year. I’m sure next time we come up against Bradford it’ll be a different match,” he said post match.

Bradford Bulls as a club had worked hard to make the opening game a success, scheduling it as a double header with the men’s game against Coventry and a significant number of the 3,000 plus crowd stayed on for the women’s game.

Bradford captain Kirsty Moroney acknowledged the galvanising effect the crowd had on the team but rued missed opportunities, vowing to learn lessons ahead of their next game, next Sunday at home against Wigan.

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