Rhinos lose out in Wheelchair Rugby League Grand Final

It was the climax of Wheelchair Rugby League’s domestic season on Saturday – a Grand Final double-header at Gillingham’s Medway Park that lived up to every ounce of its pre-match billing.

Super League’s Grand Final was won by Halifax, who ended the Rhinos unbeaten season with a hard-fought 50-42 victory.

Meanwhile, Hull FC put behind them the disappointment of their Challenge Trophy Final defeat against Gravesend Dynamite earlier this season, to lift the Championship title with a thrilling 44-38 win over Bradford Bulls.

Leeds went into their game unbeaten in all competitions this season, having clinched the League Leaders’ trophy with a victory over Halifax and the Challenge Cup after a hard-fought final against the Argonauts.

But Halifax gained revenge thanks to a five star performance from five-try Jack Brown, four tries from player-of-the match Rob Hawkins and an outstanding defensive team effort across the park.

The Rhinos had fought their way back from 33-6 down to trail by just eight points at the break and remained in touch at 36-40 before Halifax finished in style to gain a sixth league title and take back the trophy they lose to their West Yorkshire rivals 12 months ago.

Several players from both sides will now turn their attentions to international competition, starting with next week’s Wheelchair Rugby League Home Nations competition at Wrexham on the weekend of 28 and 29 September, involving England, Scotland and Wales.

Both Hull FC and Bradford Bulls came into the Championship Grand Final unbeaten in the league after avoiding each other during the regular season – and both sides were resolutely determined to keep their 100% records intact.

Hull established an early lead through Tristan Norfolk, but it was Bradford who finished the half looking fitter, stronger and 28-20 to the good, thanks to some enterprising attacking play and a superb breakaway effort on the stroke of half time by George Herd.

In the second half Hull were again first out of the blocks – and once more it was player-of-the-match Norfolk who opened the scoring. There was little to separate the two sides until five minutes from time when Hull player-coach Mike Swainger scored a try out of nothing to give his side a 12-point advantage.

Bradford’s own player-of-the-match, Kieron Johnson, scored a last-minute solo but unfortunately for the Bulls there was no time to restart the game following the successful conversion.

Martin Coyd OBE, Wheelchair RL Chairman, added: “This is a fantastic venue – the home of England Wheelchair RL – and it has given our players the best possible opportunity to showcase our wonderful sport. We have witnessed some awesome speed, aggression, skill, courage and endurance, and loads of passion – Rugby League at its very best.

“The players, coaches, volunteers and supporters of all our clubs put in a huge effort to make Wheelchair Rugby League work. Without them we wouldn’t have a game. It was also a big day for the match officials, a great team who travel the length and breadth of the country to help us deliver our matches and events.”

Leeds Rhinos: Daniel Baines; Jodie Boyd-Ward; Joshua Butler; Ewen Clibbens; Nathan Collins; Josh Gardner; Tom Halliwell; Ryan Richardson; Steve Sampther; James Simpson (Capt.)

Halifax: Coral Batey; Sébastien Bechara; Wayne Boardman (Capt.); Harry Brown; Jack Brown; Tony Godward; Tom Green; Robert Hawkins; Tom Martin; Nathan Mulhall; Martin Norris.