Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Physical Disability Rugby League team secured their place in the PDRL League Playoff Semi-Finals after coming away with two victories and a draw against leaders Wakefield Trinity from their final festival of the year in Bradford.
Heading into the weekend, the side were already assured of getting a shot at the PDRL Grand Final, but a strong finish at Odsal Stadium on Saturday saw them move up to second in the table and avoid the need to play in the first stage of qualifiers when all six teams go for glory at Finals Day next month.
Following a minute’s applause in memory of ex-Wakefield player Danny Kirmond’s brother, Jack, the Rhinos opened proceedings against their West Yorkshire counterparts looking to inflict just their second defeat of the campaign.
Things started badly, as Trinity’s John Humphries took a lovely reverse pass to power his way over just a few minutes into the match. That is how it remained for most of the contest, until a late rally from the Rhinos in the final stages saw top scorer Scott Gobin touch down to level the scores at 6-6 in game one.
After a long wait in the blazing sun, the Rhinos’ next task was to take down a resurgent Castleford outfit coming into the clash on the back of a seven-game winning streak. But with the wind now in their sails after their late leveller against Wakefield, Dan Roberts’ men once again hit their groove and tries from Aiden Miller and Tom Kaye earned a superb 8-4 victory over the Tigers.
It was then a quick turnaround before the final match of the afternoon against Wigan, although there were no signs of the Rhinos slowing down as a double from the ever-impressive Gobin and another score from Kaye sealed a 14-4 win over the Cherry and Whites.
Having taken an impressive haul of five points taken from their three fixtures, the Rhinos had done enough to leapfrog Warrington into second position and give themselves an easier path to silverware by gaining the reward of an automatic passage into the Playoff Semi-Finals.
Leeds will instead now face the highest placed qualifier out of the bottom four teams- Warrington, Castleford, Wigan and Bradford- at the second staging of the PDRL Finals Day, which takes place on Saturday 10th September at the Belle Vue Sports Village in Manchester.
The full running order for PDRL Finals Day will be as follows:
Festival Running Order:
11:00 Game 1: Castleford vs Wigan
11:30 Game 2 Warrington vs Bradford
12:00 Semi-Final 1: Wakefield vs lowest placed qualifier
12:30 Semi-Final 2: Leeds vs highest placed qualifier
13:00 Game 1 loser vs Game 2 loser
13:30 Semi-Final 1 loser vs Semi-Final 2 loser (3rd/4th Play Off)
14:00 PDRL Grand Final