YORK City Knights Ladies were undone in their bid for a Women’s Challenge Cup title by a well-drilled and clinical St Helens.

The Merseyside outfit lifted the trophy for the first time after coming out deserved 34-6 winners at Leigh Sports Village in the midday heat.

But this new-look York side did themselves proud against a side who have scored 230 points and conceded just six in Women’s Super League this year.

The Knights started strongly and matters could have been very different had they not been held up twice inside the opening 10 minutes.

And they were still battling to the end, when Savannah Andrade – with three minutes to go – dragging Carrie Roberts into touch just yards from the line.

There were plenty of eyes on the final, which was watched by fans in the ground and by viewers at home on BBC Two.

York City Knights made four changes to the side after their narrow Women’s Super League defeat to Castleford Tigers,

England star Kelsey Gentles returned to the starting 13 along with Bettie Lambert, while Emily Farrow came in on the bench.

Ashleigh Hyde also joined the interchanges, an incredible 10 weeks after giving birth so son Finley.

Former York RUFC youth player Emma Hardy, who plies her trade across the codes with Loughborough Lightning, started at full-back for her second game after joining the Knights

There may well have been some nerves on show to begin with and both sides were guilty of handling errors. Hardy was forced to stretch for a catch, the fumble handing momentum to Saints, who lost it as the ball squirmed away from Amy Hardcastle.

The pressure was all York’s to begin with but they were unable to capitalise against a determined Saints defence.

A Katie Langan pass created space down the left side for a brilliant carry from Savannah Andrade. She was brought down and the grubber kick through off the fifth tackle was put behind.

That zero-tackle set laid the foundation for Rhiannion Marshall to power through the Saints defensive line and go over but she was held up.

Marshall’s strong kicking game was also important for York and she lofted one over for Gentles, who could not take the tricky catch under pressure on the try-line.

When Saints were finally able to get out and play, their first fluid attack saw Faye Gaskin release winger Danielle Bush into space out wide to go over. Beth Stott had the distance on the conversion but put it wide.

York almost responded perfectly from the kick off when Stott knocked on and allowed the Knights territory and Sinead Peach got over but was held up.

And down the other end, following a set restart, Rachael Woosey went over for Saints from a passing move all the way along the York line. Stott’s kick from wide out fell short.

By the end of the first quarter, Saints were well into the ascendancy. York prevented another try by holding up Emily Rudge, who had twisted through the defensive line.

In the 33rd minute, a great short pass near the halfway line from Jodie Cunningham released Rudge in the centre of the park and the England international swerved Hardy before holding off Gentles to score under the posts. Stott added the straightforward extras.

Four minutes later, Cunningham pulled the strings again with footwork that took Marshall out of the game before setting Hardcastle away with a short pass. She swept to score under the posts and Stott posted another two points.

As in the first half, the Knights started the second period brightly.

Two penalties straight after the restart gifted York territory but they ultimately could not profit as the Saints wall on the try-line held them away.

Another good lofted Marshall kick on the last tackle was eventually gathered by Gentles, who set York towards the try-line, but the attack was snuffed out.

And York were on the scoreboard by the 50th minute. Peach put a grubber kick through on the last tackle Rebecca Rotheram could not gather, the ball bouncing between her arms. Saints might argue Rotheram had got the pressure to ground it but take nothing away from Peach, who played to the whistle to chase her own kick down and score. Marshall added the extras.

It was not long before Saints stretched the gap to 18 points again. A good set got Saints forward and Woosey went over wide for her second unconverted try of the game, with the influential Cunningham again playing her part.

Another flowing move from Saints sent Carrie Roberts scampering over the try-line, bouncing away from a strong hand-off on Andrade.

A converted Paige Travis try stretched Saints’ advantage to 28 points. Saints were fired up and winning the arm wrestle, and Travis made sure they were rewarded as she danced through the Knights defence before touching down, despite Gentles’ best efforts to get underneath her.

Knights: Hardy, Gentles, Renouf, Andrade, Lambert, Marshall, Langan, Field, Peach, Clayton, Wood, Sanderson, Hendry.

Interchanges: Innes, Farrow, Hyde, Stimpson.

St Helens: Rotheram, Bush, Roberts, Hardcastle, Woosey, B Stott, Gaskin, Crowl, Jones, Akrigg, Travis, E Rudge, Cunningham.

Interchanges: Williams, Burke, Birchall, I Rudge.