By Marc Bazeley at Emerald Headingley
Final Update: 10/10/21 7:43pm
Head coach Hardman praised the efforts of his Saints team over the past two years to complete the hat-trick. “We knew we would be ready for 2021 because we would come back even better and I am very proud of the girls,” he said.
Derek Hardman believes the genesis of St Helens’ 3-point winning season was established at the start of the canceled 2020 campaign after they capped off a memorable year by sealing the glory of the Women’s Super League Grand Final.
Having emerged from the 2019 season as a defeated semi-finalist in both the Super League and Challenge Cup play-offs, Head Coach Hardman felt the Saints were in a good position to continue and claim honors last year before the Covid-19 pandemic will force the cancellation of the entire season.
But there was no truce on their part as the 2021 campaign began, claiming both the Challenge Cup and the League Leaders’ Shield before a historic year was capped with a 28-0 win over reigning champions Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final. Sunday behind two attempts by Leah Burke.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Hardman said. “We set up our position from 2020 and we were ready then. We knew we would be ready for 2021 because we would come back even better and I am very proud of the girls.
“I thought Leeds defended very well during the first 20, they were very close and could go in any direction, but we knew that if we stayed in the arm wrestling, our physical condition would tell.
“Then Zoe Harris’s little kicks to get Leah to score, it took to break her defense, so I think that’s testament to the Leeds defense.”
Full back Burke and mid-back Harris, who tried to go with their two assists, may have made the headlines, but much of the groundwork for the Saints’ win in front of more than 4,000 fans at Emerald Headingley was done by him. player of the match with Chantelle Crowl.
The mainstay helped her team take hold with a strong run and discharge, particularly in the first half, and while Crowl felt her teammates deserved the same praise, she was delighted to be honored in that way.
“I feel very lucky to get it because everyone in that field deserved it, not just me,” Crowl said. “This is for me and the girls, we’ve all worked for each other, but it’s a good feeling, I’m not going to lie!
“Before a game, the way I think about how I’m going to play, my shots, how fast I’m going to run and my power, but when I talk to my captain it’s about getting the shots right and not doing it. In the moment wrong.
“I think it was worth it today, we did it at the right time and we didn’t make too many mistakes.”
In addition to suffering a loss in the final on their own turf, Leeds saw Sophie Nuttall on a stretcher late in the first half due to concerns about a possible neck injury sustained while she was making a tackle.
“That’s why it’s so disappointing,” Forsell said. “They started as we asked and for the first 20 minutes we gave a good account of ourselves, but then we lost opportunities because of that.
“We gave ourselves too much to do, but we didn’t start the second half as well as the Saints did. We showed some real courage and determination in the final five minutes of the game, but that’s not what you do in a Grand Final.” – you do it for the total of 80 “.