YORK City Knights Ladies loose forward Ellie Hendry is delighted with the experience of playing in a Challenge Cup final and believes the up-and-coming outfit made a statement by getting there.

Hendry was part of the Knights side that made the Women's Challenge Cup final for the first time in the club's history - and though the result did not go their way, it was a thrill to be involved.

The Knights were beaten 34-6 at the weekend by an experienced and clinical St Helens side, who added to their own side's history by lifting the trophy for the first time.

Meanwhile, the showpiece itself was broadcast live on terrestrial television - making for another first for the women's game.

"Obviously we were gutted to not come away with the win but it was all round a great experience so we can't complain," the 20-year-old said.

"We were just thrilled we made it there in the first place.

"It was just a bit unbelievable for York to make it to the final of a Challenge Cup. We've never got there ever so it was a bit of a statement, I think.

"(St Helens) have played together for years and we've been together for six weeks. I think we've done fairly well but they are the best team in the league at the moment.

"They turned up on the day and had a bit more direction in the game.

"If we'd have carried on putting more pressure on them in the first half and succeeded in those first 15 minutes, I think it could have been a very different game.

"I think there were some nerves with playing in front of so many people.

"It was a great game to play. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and that's all that matters really."

On playing in front of the TV cameras and fans at Leigh Sports Village, Hendry added: "In the women's game in general, we hope to be as big as the men and have that same publicity.

"It's grown massively this past year so hopefully us as a team, as individuals and all the rest of the teams can grow together.

"It was an amazing opportunity. It was great for the women's game itself.

"But when you're playing you obviously don't see the cameras - you're not aware of what it is.

"There are the initial nerves of knowing everyone's watching, your family saying they'll be watching, it is added pressure but you've got to just put it to the side and carry on with the game plan."

This York side is still a young project. In the past two months, the Knights have assembled a new-look coaching staff of former Leeds Rhinos Women's Adam Cuthbertson, Callum Windley and director of rugby Lindsay Anfield - both formerly of Castleford Tigers Women - to complement the work of established Knights Ladies coach Daryl North.

In early May, the Knights recruited seven star players - featuring a handful of England internationals - from Women's Super League rivals, and have most recently acquired the services of former York RUFC youth Emma Hardy, who herself has England experience with the rugby union sevens side.

For Hendry - who has been with York since she was 16 - it is "amazing to be given the opportunity" to be a part of the growth of the side.

"Lindsay, Adam and Callum coming in, and all the other girls we've signed, has been a massive addition to our team and it's boosted us all up," she said.

"It's given us that bit of competition and direction that we needed as a team to get where we needed to be.

"When people come in, you do have to fight for your shirt a little more but everyone's taken it really well, I think.

"All the girls fit in really well, we all get on really well - it's like we've been together for years.

"I personally have learned new skills from the new girls so they are a massive help. They just add that little bit extra to our team.

"We're always looking to what we can improve on. In any game, we assess what we could have done better but it's never anything massively negative.

"We are a team that's building together. We are going to make mistakes - it's just how we come away from them and how we adjust to them together to get better."