"ONE OF THE BEST GAMES WHEELCHAIR RUGBY LEAGUE HAS EVER SEEN."
By John Seager
Halifax WRL won 68-54 to claim a second-successive Wheelchair Rugby League Premier League title, but they had to dig deep to see off Leeds Rhinos in an entertaining and close encounter at Medway Park, Gillingham.
The Rhinos started the game on top and raced to a 12-point lead, Tom Haliwell scoring a sublime first-half hat-trick within the first 15 minutes.
Halifax got their game together after falling behind and the man to turn their fortune around was their player/coach Jack Brown.
He set up two great tries for his club captain Wayne Boardman and Robert Hawkins and also scored a try himself, to give Halifax a narrow four-point lead.
Halifax won the Wheelchair RL Challenge Cup earlier this year
Despite the Rhinos scoring a try through Josh Butler, the game changed within the final two minutes of the first half.
Brown scored a try following a good kick forward from Stewart Walker; Halifax got the ball back from the restart, this let Brown raced away as the half time hooter sounded, where he scored a try in the corner despite pressure from Rhinos captain, James Simpson.
Half Time: Halifax 32 Leeds 24
Halifax continued to dominate the game early on in the second half.
Brown added two more tries and he helped to create a second try of the game for Boardman, as they led by 26 points.
The Rhinos did look to get back into the game as they scored a try through Ryan Richardson, but a try for Nathan Mulhall and seventh try of the game for Brown saw Halifax extend their lead to 32 points.
Congratulations @Halifax_RLFC, 2016 @WheelchairRL Challenge Cup winners!
But the Rhinos mounted a great second-half comeback, which was spearheaded by their captain James Simpson; he found a gap on the try line to score and rally his side with just under ten minutes left.
The Rhinos continued to build pressure, scoring two well-worked tries from Nathan Collins and a try from Ewan Cibbens, but they ran out of time and they lost by 14 points in a game which will go down as one of the best games Wheelchair Rugby League has ever seen.
Wayne Boardman (c), Jack Brown, Nathan Mulhall, Stewart Walker, Gavin Dobson, Tom Martin, Robert Hawkins, Andy Atkinson, Annabel Hawkins
James Simpson, Jodie Boyd-Ward, Ryan Richardson, Ewan Cibbens, Luis Domingos, Neil Harper, Tony Godward, Nathan Collins, Josh Butler, Tom Haliwell
Referees: Steve Abel and Matt Ball
In-goal Referees: David Abel and Joe Coyd