Rugby League

Wheelchair Super League

20 Mar 2023

Betfred Wheelchair Super League Round-Up

Betfred Wheelchair Super League Round-Up

Wigan Warriors produced a major surprise on the opening weekend of the 2023 Betfred Wheelchair Super League season, stunning the champions Halifax Panthers in a rollercoaster contest at Robin Park.

The Warriors, led superbly by their England World Cup winners Adam Rigby and Declan Roberts, took an early 16-6 lead.

But the Panthers, who included three members of that England squad plus the France international Jeremy Bourson, surged back to lead 32-28 at half-time, and extended that advantage to 38-28 when Seb Bechara sent Tom Green over for their seventh try with a superb inside pass.

Wigan’s response was remarkable, as they dominated the remainder of the match to score five tries, a penalty and a third drop goal for Roberts, who ended with 25 of the points in a 59-45 triumph.

“That went better than we expected, to be honest,” said Roberts, who took up Wheelchair Rugby League to have the chance of playing alongside his father, Phil – now the Wigan coach, and an Ireland international during the World Cup.

“Halifax are a great side full of quality players, but we are improving all the time, and we really want to challenge the big two this season.”

Matt Wooloff, who represented the USA at the World Cup, scored three tries in a powerful performance. There were two for Jack Heggie, and there were also impressive performances from Martin Lane, Lenny Izzard, and the former England veteran Martin Norris.

The England trio of Bechara, Rob Hawkins and Wayne Boardman scored a try apiece for the Panthers, with Hawkins landing six goals for a personal tally of 16 points, and Bourson scored a first-half hat-trick.

“We were a little bit rusty but full credit to Wigan,” said Bechara. “I’m disappointed to lose, but excited about the growing strength of the competition, and really proud to see the way Adam Rigby and Dec Roberts played out there. It’s a long season, and we’ll be back!”

Elsewhere in the opening round, Leeds Rhinos made an ominous start under their new coach James Simpson with a 118-12 romp against Warrington Wolves.