Leeds duly claimed the Betfred Wheelchair SL League Leaders’ Shield - to go with their Challenge Cup - and with it a home semi final, following a
76-50 win away at Wigan. The Rhinos were never behind, England skipper Tom Halliwell scoring a 16 minute hat trick in a blistering start that also saw James Simpson cross. Wigan hit back on their first possession through Phil Roberts, son Declan converting and Adam Rigby went over from a Lenny Izzard pass to make it 16-12. Ewan Clibbens and Halliwell’s third stretched the visitor’s back to a 14-point lead, Matt Wooloff and Josh Butler swapping tries before Nathan Collins’ pace saw him open his account although he missed the goal, on an afternoon where his kicking success was mixed. Collins’ second sandwiched efforts from Declan Roberts and Wooloff again, Declan Roberts remaining perfect when adding the extras to make it 40-30 at half time. Two quick-fire tries at the start of the second period, a second for Simpson and third to Collins, both converted, gave the Rhinos an unassailable lead. Butler and Simpson completed their hat tricks for Leeds as did Wooloff for the Warriors in his best display in the colours, Collins finishing with four tries and nine goals for a haul of 34 points. Halliwell kicked two goals and Clibbens one, whilst Roberts claimed seven successful shots at goal from eight attempts. Rhinos’ player/coach Simpson noted: “It was exactly the kind of tough clash we were expecting but our starts to both halves were high quality and intense, and that saw us through. To pick up a second trophy is immense and an absolute credit to this group who work incredibly hard for their success.” Wigan player/coach Phil Roberts
noted: “Leeds were undoubtedly the better team. There were still positives for us to take forward into the play-offs.”
The Warriors will now travel to Halifax after they beat London in Medway, the Roosters going to Leeds in the other semi, both those games in a fortnight. Part of a festival in Kent, the Panthers started well with player/coach Wayne Boardman – who finished with three tries - and Rob Hawkins in control and pushing their lead out to 18 points. Jason Owen enjoyed a purple patch for the Roosters, not least with his innovative kicking, and scored a quick fire treble to drag the Roosters back into the game. Hawkins responded and the visitors led 36-14 at the break. The Roosters rallied in the second half, Jack Linden scoring a great individual try diving into the corner as part of his haul of four, Lewis King the host’s other try scorer, Owen with five goals. Hawkins bagged 32 of his side’s points with five tries and six goals, Tom Martin and Tom Green ‘Fax’s other try scorers, Nathan Mulhall with a goal in their 54-42 triumph. “We got the job done today,” said Boardman. “All six of our travelling players had a role to play and they made it work.
The Roosters gave us a game and we enjoyed the match, executed our plays and put ourselves in a good place for a home semi final.” Roosters head coach, Tom Coyd, said: “‘We are pleased with our effort and learned that we can match anyone on the day. We play knockout football next time around and, with a couple of key players returning, have much to build on from this game.”
- Wigan Warriors 50-76 Leeds Rhinos
- London Roosters 42-54 Halifax Panthers