A second half hat-trick from Katie Hepworth and a brace for Tara Stanley helped Castleford Tigers Women to a famous 32-14 Challenge Cup win at Odsal (writes Sebastian Sternik).
When the draw was made for the first round of the cup there was no doubt that this was going to be the headline fixture. It certainly did not disappoint as a clinical second half performance ended Bradford’s hopes of defending the Challenge Cup.
Bradford led early as Amy Hardcastle crossed the whitewash in the opening five minutes. But in the following set Stanley skipped past the Bulls defence, found a gap down the right wing and scored the first of her two tries.
Shona Hoyle restored the Bulls’ lead and they made it 14-6 at half-time as Leah Jones crossed the line.
Something had to change from a Cas perspective and it certainly did. Words of wisdom from the coaching staff saw the Tigresses come out inspired for the second half and within minutes they scored through Hepworth who collected a kick on the last tackle and finished off the move with a brilliant individual run.
Five minutes later Hepworth was at it again. While on the last tackle, the Castleford captain positioned herself for a kick. Instead she produced a phenomenal dummy, fooled the Bradford defence and crossed the try line for her second try.
The England international then completed her hat-trick with a try of the season contender as a mixture of intelligent passing and determination helped Castleford to a 22-14 lead.
The visitors smelled blood and kept up the attack. This paid off as a 60-metre run from Maisie Burton brilliantly set up Sinead Peach for her second try of the season.
More drama began to unfold as Burton received a yellow card following an altercation with one of her counterparts. However, despite being a player down, it was the Tigresses who were pushing for more points.
Gabby Harrison came close when a pass from Stanley saw her break clean through down the left wing. On this occasion, the Bradford defence did well as they pushed Harrison into touch just metres from the try line.
With the game entering its final few minutes, there was still enough time for a bit of Stanley magic. The full-back picked up the ball near her own line and raced the full length of the field to end the game in style.
This was Castleford’s second victory over Bradford this season. It was also a phenomenal way to bounce back following last week’s disappointing defeat to the Leeds Rhinos.
The Tigresses will now enjoy a week off before hosting St Helens at the MAH Jungle on June 17.