Leeds Rhinos retained their Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup crown with a dominant 60-28 victory over The Argonauts at Sheffield’s EIS.
The Rhinos, who won the latest version of the competition two years ago, showed their international class throughout, with England captain Tom Halliwell producing a five-star performance for his club side in victory.
The game marked another historic first for the Wheelchair game, as the first domestic fixture to be shown on the BBC – and those watching were treated to a cracker.
It was the reigning champions who started much the better, with Jodie Boyd-Ward breaking the deadlock after a sustained spell of pressure from the Rhinos.
The Argonauts, who lost the 2019 final to the Rhinos, hit straight back though, with Fred Nye showing strength and skill in equal measure to power over.
Nathan Collins impressed for England in the recent International against Wales, and nearly scored a sublime solo effort to extend the Rhinos lead, but was cruelly denied at the line.
His England captain took full advantage though, with Tom Halliwell obliging shortly after.
Halliwell, who led his country for the first time in June, then completed a hat-trick in record quick time, first taking a Collins kick supremely to touch down in the corner, before finishing a slick Rhinos move under the sticks a minute later.
The Kent-based opponents were not wilting, with another England international Lewis King touching down to reduce the arrears.
The Rhinos were relentless though, and James Simpson was the latest to notch, before King bagged another belter for The Argonauts just before the break to ensure they remained in the game at the break; The Rhinos leading 30-12.
It took only 40 seconds for the Argonauts to hit back in the second period, with James Hazel notching, but the Rhinos didn’t dally for long, as James Simpson went down the other end to bag his second of the day.
Tom Halliwell had another just before the hour mark, producing an old-fashioned ‘show and go’ before touching down, but the try of the day was saved for The Argonauts’ Freya Levy minutes later, who finished a remarkable move to gasps in the crowds.
Tom Coyd then scored once more for the challengers, who reduced the deficit to just 14 points heading into the final 15, but the Rhinos were to finish with a flourish.
Jodie Boyd-Ward bundled through to bag her second of the game, before the main man Halliwell grabbed a historic fifth – matching his club mate Tom Briscoe’s achievement for the Rhinos men in 2015 – with Josh Butler rounding off proceedings in the dying embers to ensure the trophy would stay at Emerald Headingley for at least another 12 months.
Boyd-Ward (2), Halliwell (5), Simpson (2), Butler
Nye, King (2), Hazel, Levy, Coyd