After an extended break of more than 20 months without a game, Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League made a 100% start to the 2021 season with two wins from their opening two fixtures this weekend.
The campaign began with two triangular series on either side of the Pennines, with Hull hosting Halifax and the Argonauts from Kent, while Leeds Rhinos and North Wales Crusaders travelled to Lancashire to face Leyland Warriors in Preston.
In Lancashire, Our League showcased the class of the Rhinos side as they won twice at Preston College, the home of Leyland Warriors.
Leyland were quick off the mark in game one, clocking up an unassailable 40-9 half time lead against the visiting North Wales Crusaders side. And there was no letting up in the second half as they produced 40 more to round off an impressive 80-9 round one win.
Game two saw Leeds Rhinos face off with North Wales and they wasted no time in getting ahead, led around by the impressive Tom Halliwell and James Simpson, who was crowned Disability Sportsman of the Year at the Leeds Sports Awards earlier this week. Josh Butler was a fist-half scorer for the Rhinos as they were 54-6 up by half time.
Halliwell was again to the fore in the second period and ended as Player of the Match as the Rhinos moved into a 86-6 lead approaching the final stages, but North Wales stayed in the wrestle and would enjoy a late purple patch, racking up 20 points of their own as the clock ticked down- the final score being 86-26 to Leeds.
And the Rhinos were quick to turn around and tackle the ambitious Warriors in game three. They flew out of the blocks and into an early 16-0 lead before Leyland go to within six points mid-way through the first period, but it was Halliwell who broke the game open again and would lead the visitors to a 28-10 half time advantage
The Warriors continued to hold a threat in the second period with 12 further points but it wasn’t enough as Halliwell, named as Player of the Match for the second time in the day, led the Rhinos charge to an impressive 44-30 win.
Halliwell’s efforts have been recognised internationally too, earning him a place in the RLWC2021 Team of the Week as the first Wheelchair Rugby League player to be selected.
Free flowing WheelchairRL! It’s good to be back 🦏♿️🏉👊 @TheRFL @leedsrhinos @RugbyLeeds pic.twitter.com/fSnRWiIOAU
— James Simpson (@SimWheelchairRL) May 31, 2021
Meanwhile Hull FC, who were making their Wheelchair Super League debut – which had been delayed 12 months by the Covid-19 pandemic – made an immediate impact as they took a 30-18 half-time lead against the 2019 Grand Final winners.
However Halifax, playing under the club’s new Panthers nickname for the first time in the Super League, drew on their experience and class to dominate the second half for a 68-40 win.
They maintained that momentum in their second game against the Argonauts, surging to a 20-0 lead – only for the Skeleton Army to reduce the arrears to 22-18 just before half-time. Again though, the Panthers produced an impressive second half performance to run out 64-44 winners.
Wheelchair Super League Round 1 Results:
- North Wales Crusaders 26-86 Leeds Rhinos
- Leyland Warriors 30-44 Leeds Rhinos
- Hull FC 40 Halifax 68
- Halifax 64 Argonauts 44
- Hull FC 10 Argonauts 76
- Leyland Warriors 76-9 North Wales Crusaders
With the Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League side now up and running for 2021, new players are invited to join the side at Morley Leisure Centre for their training sessions each Tuesday, 7-9pm.
To get involved or for more information about the team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07769938798.