Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair were denied a huge victory on the road as a last minute penalty goal for Wigan Warriors saw them share the spoils following a thrilling game on Sunday.
A real humdinger at Robin Park Leisure Centre saw the go action end-to-end as the Rhinos went in with just a two-point advantage at the half time break, leading 34-32 following a flurry of first half tries.
The battling action continued into the second half as both sides pressed for the winning scores but despite their best efforts, the spoils were eventually shared in a 62-62 draw.
It was an electric start for the Rhinos as they opened up a 12-0 lead within 13 minutes. A slick handling move saw Jodie Boyd-Ward score in the left corner, before Nathan Collins doubled the tally with a try on the back of a quick play the ball. Collins also converted both tries.
Busting through a gap, Martin Norris opened Wigan’s account as he powered his way to the line for his first try and then capitalised on the hard work of his teammates to score in the right corner. Declan Roberts tied the scores with two successful conversions.
Leeds regained control with a try by Tom Halliwell, but this was quickly cancelled out by Declan Roberts as he wriggled away from the tacklers to score his first of the afternoon. With both tries converted, it was 18 apiece after 25 minutes.
Wigan hit the front for the first time when Norris scored his third try, but with a missed conversion it left them only 4 points ahead. When Halliwell found space out wide to tie the scores, Collins was able add the extras and put Leeds back in front.
Matt Wooloff quickly got into the action off the interchange benchh when he was on the end of a passing move that saw Declan Roberts and Jack Heggie spread the ball wide. Scoring their third back to back try of the half, Wigan were in again when Adam Rugby was able to score close to the sticks. With one successful kick, the men in Cherry & White now led 32-24 with 5 minutes to go.
Just short of half time, the Rhinos added two further tries. Boyd-Ward grabbed her second after a nice spread play, before Josh Butler was able to evade would be tacklers and touchdown. With one of the two tries converted, Leeds edged it 34-32 at the turnaround.
Quick out of the blocks after the restart, Declan Roberts scored a converted try to put Wigan back in front. Completing her hat trick, Boyd-Ward scored in the left corner after some great movement gave Leeds the overlap. Another conversion by Collins put Leeds 40-38 up.
The action was coming thick and fast, Roberts turned provider this time as his cut out pass put Wooloff in at the corner and Wigan back in front but not for long, Halliwell became the third player to score three tries in the game, this one coming straight from the kick off after Wigan failed to deal with the loose ball. With Collins missing the conversion, the scores were now tied at 44-44.
Making up for his missed kick, Collins scored a try, as well as adding the extra 2 points, to give Leeds the advantage once again.
With several Internationals on court, Declan Roberts showed why he was recently called up to the England Performance Squad by single handedly being responsible for a 12 point swing. Another reach for the line made it three, then a solo effort made it four tries for the afternoon.
As had been the case all day, neither side was prepared to stay behind for long, Rhinos hitting back through James Simpson after a cross court kick was neatly passed back inside by Collins. The score was tied again when Collins slotted over another conversion to make it 56 each.
Scoring his fifth try, Roberts came in on a great angled line to crash though the Leeds defence, though the conversion attempt was missed. Leeds weren’t finished just yet as Collins reached out to complete his hat-trick, the fifth player to do so in this game, plus he was able to convert the try to make it 62-60 to Leeds with 9 minutes to go.
Earning a penalty for offside, Wigan opted to take a kick at goal with the aim of levelling the scores, and Roberts was able to slot the ball between the uprights to make it 62-62. Both sides weren’t looking to settle for the draw, an attempt at a drop goal from both sides were smothered. Leeds went close to scoring a try on two further occasions and only some last ditch tackling keeping them out, but they just couldn’t break the Wigan line one last time. The final whistle blew and the game ended tied at 62-62.
That draw keeps the Rhinos in 3rd position in the Betfred Wheelchair Super League, with a game in hand over the Warriors who lie one place above them and tucked behind league leaders Halifax Panthers. Next up is a home match against London Roosters on Saturday 7th May at Leeds Beckett University, where the Rhinos will be looking to make it three wins from three in their new surroundings.
Wigan Warriors: Martin Norris, Jack Heggie, Declan Roberts, Adam Rigby, Phil Roberts.
Interchange: Chris Greenhalgh, Reece Duddle, Nathan Roberts, Mark Williams, Matt Wooloff.
Tries: Norris (3), D.Roberts (5), Rigby (1), Wooloff (2).
Goals: D.Roberts 9/12
Leeds Rhinos: Nathan Collins, James Simpson, Ewan Clibbens, Tom Halliwell, Jodie Boyd-Ward
Interchange: Josh Butler, Verity Smith
Tries: Boyd-Ward (3), Collins (3), Halliwell (3), Butler, Simpson
Goals: Collins 9/11
COME AND TRY WHEELCHAIR RL
Fancy giving Wheelchair Rugby League a try? Leeds Rhinos Foundation is hosting two free taster sessions with our Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair squad for anyone interested in having a go at something new and learning new skills!
These ‘Come and Try’ sessions are open to people of all ages and abilities (Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult) and whether you are interested in playing, volunteering or supporting, or for those wanting to learn more about the game, all are welcome to attend!
Not just a sport for people with disabilities, Wheelchair Rugby League is an inclusive sport allowing athletes with disabilities to compete with and against those who are able-bodied.
The sessions are free to attend, please register your interest by going to the following link – CLICK HERE
What: Wheelchair Rugby League ‘Come and Try’ sessions
When: Thursday 28th April and Thursday 5th May- 6pm-7pm
Where: Leeds Beckett University, Headingley Campus, Church Wood Avenue, LS6 3QS