YORK Valkyrie returned from their five-week break in style with a 44-0 thrashing of newly promoted Barrow Raiders at the LNER Community Stadium.

Emma Kershaw bagged a hat-trick - taking her tally to seven tries against the Raiders alone this season - whilst Liv Gale, Savannah Andrade, Georgie Hetherington, Eboni Partington and Liv Wood also got in on the action for Lindsay Anfield’s side.

Hoping to regain the form that took them to an historic Betfred Women’s Super League Leaders’ Shield and Grand Final double last season, Anfield had told The Press of her intentions to mix things up for the second half of the campaign.

Gale, switching half-back for the second row, won the foot race to score into the left corner to open the scoring with 12 minutes played, and Andrade had their second shortly after, proving too strong as she barged over from close range.

A cut-out pass from the returning Tara Jane Stanley then freed Kershaw to touch down into the right corner before Hetherington burrowed over from dummy half to hand the Valkyrie a healthy 20-0 half-time lead.

Partington resumed the hosts’ scoring just seven minutes after the break with a flying finish into the left corner, with Wood then somehow managing to touch down as she took a handful of Barrow defenders with her across the line.

A late Kershaw double sent the Valkyrie past 40 points before Stanley rounded off the scoring with a 30-metre penalty three minutes from time to ensure a first league clean sheet this season.

MATCH RECAP: York Valkyrie 44-0 Barrow Raiders

As expected, changes were aplenty for the hosts, with Stanley returning from a knee injury, whilst Canadian loose forward Megan Pakulis and 17-year-old centre Evie Sexton both impressed on debut.

Both Evie Sexton and Megan Pakulis caught the eye on debut.Both Evie Sexton and Megan Pakulis caught the eye on debut. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

There was also a start for Welsh international Georgia Taylor - a late change for youngster Eva Izumi - whilst new signing Mahault Pommier was involved in the warm-up but not named in Anfield’s 17.

Kick-off coincided with a torrential downpour that continued for most of the opening half, with conditions less than ideal for either side.

Pakulis was stopped just short after Barrow had made a mess of fielding Stanley’s chip, and was involved again after the Valkyrie had won a six-again a minute later, but after a miscommunication between Gale and Remi Wilton, the ball instead went to ground.

With the rain worsening, Stanley uncharacteristically knocked-on under no pressure on her 40-metre line, but Barrow could not capitalise, with Michelle Larkin’s offload to Vanessa Temple ruled to have gone forwards.

Hetherington, fresh from her England debut, was the next to make an error, before Taylor jumped prematurely out of the line, but Claire Hutchinson could not reel in a pass in her direction.

Liv Gale, swapping the halves for the second row, opened the scoring in the pouring rain.Liv Gale, swapping the halves for the second row, opened the scoring in the pouring rain. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

Instead, the Valkyrie broke the deadlock with 12 minutes played, as after the visitors had been all at sea from Stanley’s kick on the last, Gale pounced on the loose ball before winning the footrace into the left corner.

Stanley could not convert from the touchline, and coughed up possession again from the restart after knocking-on as the ball found her along the line.

Nonetheless, York doubled their lead as the half reached its mid-point, with Andrade too powerful as she barged over to the right of the posts.

Stanley again missed the conversion, but did nail a trickier attempt from the touchline five minutes later, the full-back having played in Kershaw to dive across into the right corner after Barrow had been penalised for a knock-on.

Their scoring spree continued, with Hetherington adding her name to the scoresheet just before the half-hour, burrowing over from close range after Samantha Norman had been unable to take Stanley’s kick.

Opportunities continued to fall the Valkyrie’s way, with Taylor knocking-on before Sexton had a debut try ruled out for issues with grounding, but they still held a comfortable 20-0 lead at the break.

Barrow came out brightly in the second half, making it inside the 20-metre line for the first time, but twice gave away penalties for ball strips on Jas Bell.

Inevitably, the hosts capitalised, with Partington collecting Stanley’s cut-out pass before touching down into the left corner just seven minutes into the half.

Eboni Partington continued her rich vein of form during the second half.Eboni Partington continued her rich vein of form during the second half. (Image: Craig Hawkhead Photography)

The former Woman of Steel converted superbly from the touchline and was almost setting up the tee again a minute later, but Demi Fisher was able to intercept a cut-out pass as the Valkyrie neared the whitewash.

York lost Hetherington to injury with just over 25 minutes left to play, with Lucy Eastwood introduced in her place, but their scoring did not slow.

Wood brought five defenders with her as she powered over to score beneath the posts on the hour, before Stanley fed Kershaw, the pair exploiting a gap in Barrow’s left-edge defence to send the winger over for her second of the afternoon.

The Raiders continued to battle on in search of a consolation, with Jodie Litherland racing through a gap in the Valkyrie defence before playing in Temple, who was tackled metres short.

But as soon as the visitors had almost brought themselves onto the scoreboard, they were further behind.

They could not live with the Valkyrie’s fast handling as the ball was worked along the line for Kershaw to score her 14th try of the season - half of which have come against Barrow.

Stanley converted superbly from the touchline, and added another goal to her tally after the visitors had been penalised on the 30-metre line to complete the rout.

YORK VALKYRIE: Stanley, Partington, Sexton, Taylor, Kershaw, Rihari, Wilton, Wood, Hetherington, Bell, Gale, Andrade, Pakulis.

INTERCHANGES: Izumi, Sharp, Stimpson, Eastwood.

TRIES: Gale (12), Andrade (19), Kershaw (24, 67, 73), Hetherington (28), Partington (47), Wood (59)

GOALS: Stanley 6/9

BARROW RAIDERS: Norman, E. Hutchinson, C. Hutchinson, Rush, Larkin, Fisher, Litherland, Dobson, Lindsay, Morley, Clough, Temple, Stirzaker.

INTERCHANGES: Friend, Smith, Cottier, Stewart.

POINTS SEQUENCE: 4-0, 8-0, 12-0, 14-0, 18-0, 20-0, 24-0, 26-0, 30-0, 32-0, 36-0, 40-0, 42-0, 44-0.


YORK’S STAR WOMAN: Liv Wood. The prop was a constant handful for the Barrow defence, and superbly added her name to the scoresheet with a show of strength in the second half.

REFEREE: Neil Horton