LINDSAY Anfield believes that today's Betfred Women's Challenge Cup clash with Featherstone Rovers will provide a good indication of just where York Valkyrie are at ahead of the new Betfred Women's Super League season.

The Valkyrie make their homecoming against newly-promoted Featherstone at York St John University Sports Park this afternoon (1pm).

Anfield's side were due to take to the field at the LNER Community Stadium for the first time since October's historic Grand Final triumph over Leeds Rhinos, but the fixture was moved due to a clash with York City Ladies, who will take on Barnsley tomorrow.

It will be just the Valkyrie's second competitive fixture of 2024, having thrashed dual registration partners Sheffield Eagles 76-10 in their first group stage match three weeks ago.

Second-rower Savannah Andrade was the standout with a hat-trick at Olympic Legacy Park, whilst Kelsey Gentles, now playing in the forwards, returned with a double after the birth of her daughter.

Winger Eboni Partington also scored twice on her Valkyrie debut, whilst Tara Jane Stanley, youngster Eva Izumi, Rhiannion Marshall, Jas Bell and Alex Stimpson also found the whitewash - the latter featuring for the first time in three years after long-term injury issues.

York were shocked after falling behind to an Agnes Wood try inside the first five minutes, but Anfield was pleased with her side's response.

"It was good to get a good win under our belt in our first game of the season," the Valkyrie's director of rugby reflected.

"We're viewing these first few Betfred Challenge Cup matches almost as our pre-season friendlies, building us into the Betfred Women's Super League.

"It was a good way to start the year and it good to get the likes of Alex Stimpson and Kelsey Gentles back out for their first games since being out as well as giving debuts to Eboni Partington and Lucy Eastwood.

"We were disappointed with our start but as we built into the game, we started doing some good stuff."

Featherstone, who dramatically overtook Barrow Raiders to earn the Group Two League Leaders' Shield on the final day of the 2023 season with a 28–18 victory against Salford Red Devils, are also off the mark in the competition.

Jonny Payne's side recorded a 38-6 victory against the Eagles themselves, with the winner of this afternoon's tie taking the Group One top spot, and the all-important home advantage into the Quarter Finals.

Should the Valkyrie secure victory, they will again host Featherstone on the weekend of April 13-14.

"It will be [a step up in opposition], especially after their good win against Sheffield themselves," Anfield admitted.

"They'll be a tough opposition and it'll be a really good test of where we're at.

"They're a well-drilled side with a good, strong forward pack, so we'll have to match them down the middle, that's for sure."

Whilst without influential half-back Liv Gale, the Valkyrie will be able to welcome back both winger Georgie Hetherington and experienced centre Carrie Roberts for this afternoon's clash.

Anfield added: "We're looking forward to having Georgie Hetherington back this weekend as well as Carrie Roberts, who missed the Sheffield game with a back injury.

"Lacey Owen is in contention too after a hamstring problem.

"Liv Gale is out with a broken rib, Ash Hyde has a knee issue and Manuqalo Komaitai has an ankle problem."