Elle Frain scored a hat-trick to steer Leeds Rhinos Women to a hard-earned 24-16 victory at Featherstone Rovers.
Rhinos kicked into the swirling wind in the first half but it was the visitors who forced the first opening through Courtney Hill, then Hanna Butcher was caught close. Rovers stood firm, however, and worked the ball back up the middle at pace in response only to fail to turn possession into points.
And that failure was punished when Tash Gaines dived in for the game’s opening try.
On 24 minutes Featherstone edged ahead, Katie Hepworth spinning out of contact and wrestling to get the ball down under the sticks then landing the conversion. Leeds’ reaction was swift and sure and Frain opened her account on the back of slick handling. Again, the wind got ahold of Courtney Hill’s conversion attempt.
And Leeds exploited their right-edge success to give Frain her second try, too far out to convert in the conditions but Rhinos went into the break with a six-point lead.
Injuries disrupted Rhinos interchange but Frain’s afternoon just kept getting better, the young winger finding her way into the right corner for a third time.
Aimee Staveley ran over defenders to within 15 metres of the Rovers line, a quick play the ball released Butcher and her off-load earned Danielle Anderson the next try. Hill converted to push Rhinos out to 20-6.
Butcher had an 80-metre try ruled out for offside, after which Featherstone worked down to the other end to score through a surging Andrea Dobson.Hepworth converted, then Brogan Kennedy slid over for the home side. But Butcher capped off a stellar performance with a try of her own to make the game safe for Leeds.
Elsewhere, Castleford Tigers triumphed 36-14 at Wigan and Wakefield Trinity edged their first victory of the season, 10-6 at York City Knights.