Defending champions Leeds Rhinos kicked off the new Women’s Super League season with a bang as the competition returned following 18 months away.
Rhinos beat Castleford Tigers 20-12 in the Grand Final in October 2019, but the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic saw the competition cancelled in 2020 and four action-packed fixtures got the new edition underway with players keen to make up for lost time.
Lois Forsell’s side triumphed 68-16 over York City Knights, but actually fell behind early on.
Knights scored tries through captain Katie Langan and Ellie Hendry to take a 10-4 lead but Rhinos captain and reigning Woman of Steel Courtney Winfield-Hill spearheaded a superb fightback.
Winfield-Hill scored twice as Rhinos scored 13 tries in all - and racked up a mammoth 44 second-half points - as Adaoha Akwiwu (2), Ella Johnson and Tara Moxon all crossed on their debuts.
There were also further scores for Elle Frain (2), Ellie Oldroyd, Chloe Kerrigan, Hanna Butcher, Sophie Robinson and Aimee Staveley as Rhinos ran riot on their return to action.
Elsewhere, losing semi-finalists in 2019 St Helens managed to top that rout with an incredible 86-0 victory over Bradford Bulls to begin their campaign in style.
In all, St Helens scored 15 tries with England international Jodie Cunningham and debutants Amy Hardcastle and Carrie Roberts all claiming hat-tricks.
Emily Rudge and Danielle Bush crossed twice each while Faye Gaskin and Chantelle Crowl also dotted down as, in a World Cup year, players attempt to also put their name into the mix for international selection.
England centre Georgia Wilson raked in 28 points as Wigan Warriors eased past Warrington Wolves - one of two new teams added to this year’s expanded league - 52-8.
The international star scored five tries and four goals to cap a five-star team performance which featured 11 tries in all.
Wolves were dealt a harsh lesson on their Women’s Super League debut as Vanessa Temple (2), Vicky Molyneux (2), Rachel Thompson and Becky Greenfield added further scores.
Grand Final runners-up Castleford Tigers also made a strong start to their title challenge as they saw off local rivals Featherstone Rovers 40-6.
Kelsey Gentles proved the star of the show, scoring a first-half hat-trick as Tigers put the departure of their influential coach Lindsay Anfield last month behind them.
Anfield, who had been in charge for five years, cited personal reasons for her decision to leave and assistants Marie Colley and Kirsty Moroney took over in her place.
And Tigers began their new era by racing out of the blocks, with Gentles scoring two tries in the first five minutes before adding a third after Tamzin Renouf had also dotted down.
Hollie-Mae Dodd added a brace and Grace Field also got on the scoresheet as Leah Jones, making her debut at full-back, kicked 12 points to complete a comfortable victory.