A chastening afternoon for inexperienced Wire women's team

Grace Wray makes a strong run during Saturday's defeat at Leeds Rhinos <i>(Image: Kieran Owen)</i>
Grace Wray makes a strong run during Saturday's defeat at Leeds Rhinos (Image: Kieran Owen)

WARRINGTON Wolves women’s head coach Armani Sharrock had nothing but praise for her young charges despite their 68-0 defeat to Leeds Rhinos at Headingley.

A long list of injuries meant The Wire fielded a relatively inexperienced side for this Women’s Super League fixture, but they had no answer to the power and pace of their hosts who, in contrast, could boast a team bursting with international talent.

The Rhinos ran in 13 unanswered tries, including a hat-trick for prop Isabel Northrop.

Sharrock said: “It was a tough day but one we will take a lot from.

“We asked some very young, inexperienced players to go out and graft for 80 minutes and there is a lot to be proud of.

“There were some great individual performances and an attitude we can build our season on.”

Warrington Guardian: Nicole Barnett and Sammi Simpson make a tackle
Warrington Guardian: Nicole Barnett and Sammi Simpson make a tackle

Nicole Barnett and Sammi Simpson make a tackle (Image: Kieran Owen)

Full-back Anna Dennis was one of those players to stand up to the bombardment from the Leeds pack as they worked through the middle, but all too often the ball was then worked wide for the speedsters on the flanks to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Prop Eleanor Hunt-Pain, on loan from London to try and ease the injury burden, put in a strong a shift in defence on debut, as did skipper Katie May Williams.

Young stand-off Millie Bell put in some probing kicks to help her team out of defence and centre Grace Wray ran the ball down the flank well when given the chance.

But, on the few forays Wire did have near the Leeds try line, they couldn’t find a way through the Rhinos defence.

Their cause wasn’t helped with strong second rower Sammy Simpson having to go off for a HIA in the second half and a yellow card which effectively ended Kim Seddon’s involvement near the end of the game for an alleged hip-drop on Kaiya Glynn.

The game started badly for the visitors when Simpson knocked on a kick by Caitlin Casey and Caitlin Beevers scored to the left of the posts after the resultant scrum on three minutes.

The Wire showed some fight but similar to the Challenge Cup game earlier this month, the Leeds defence managed to keep them out and when winger Evie Cousins beat Abi Johnston to a high Casey kick and run in the score, the floodgates opened for the home side.

From the restart, Northrop cut through some weak tackling to score her first of the afternoon before Lucy Murray powered past an isolated Dennis to open up a 22-0 lead in as many minutes.

After a series of handling errors from either side, Leeds pulled further ahead when full-back Ruby Enright went over in the left-hand corner after a powerful run from Shona Hoyle down the middle created a yawning gap out wide on the half-hour.

Moments later, Northrop bagged her second and then – inevitably - Amy Hardcastle strolled over in the corner seconds before the half time whistle to send the Rhinos into the sheds with a healthy 36-0 lead.

Hardcastle added to her personal tally after Warrington had displayed some defiance in the opening few minutes of the second half and then Tara Moxon raced in down the left with her first touch of the ball after coming off the bench. Enright’s pinpoint touchline conversion extended the lead to 46-0.

Enright brought up the half-century herself after a scything run from Sophie Robinson had been halted just short of the line, leaving the full-back to fall over the line to score.

Further tries from England international Hoyle, Jenna Greening and the hat-trick try from Northrop after unselfish play from Hardcastle rounded off a chastening afternoon for Sharrock’s young guns.

Wolves: Anna Dennis; Abigail Johnston, Nicole Barnett, Grace Wray, Lauren Ellison; Millie Bell, Charlize Magraw; Eleanor Hunt-Pain, Jasmine Wilson, Megan Condliffe, Katie May Williams, Sammi Simpson, Olivia Hill. Subs: Olivia Webb, Emily Tandy, Ellie Jelves, Kim Seddon. 18th: Georgia Bogg