Halifax claimed a second successive Wheelchair Rugby League Premier League title, but they had to dig deep to see off Leeds Rhinos 68-54 in an entertaining and close encounter at Medway Park, Gillingham writes John Seager.
The Rhinos started the game better and they raced to a 12-point lead when Tom Halliwell started the game by scoring a sublime hat-trick within the first 15 minutes.
Halifax got their game together and the man to turn their fortunes around was their player/coach Jack Brown. He set up two great tries for his club captain Wayne Boardman and Robert Hawkins and also scored a try himself, to give his side a four-point lead.
Despite the Rhinos scoring a try through Josh Butler, the game changed within the final two minutes of the first half. Brown scored a try following a good kick forward from Stewart Walker. Halifax got the ball back from the restart, this let Brown race away as the half-time hooter sounded to score in the corner despite being put under a lot of pressure from Rhinos captain James Simpson for a 32-24 interval lead.
Halifax continued to dominate the game early in the second half, Brown adding two more tries and helping to create a second try of the game for Boardman as they established a 26-point advantage.
The Rhinos look to get back into the contest through a Ryan Richardson touchdown, but a try for Nathan Mulhall and seventh score by Brown saw Halifax extend the lead to 32 points.
The Rhinos mounted a great comeback, spear-headed by their captain James Simpson. He found a gap on the try-line to rally his side with just under 10 minutes left.
Leeds continued to build up the pressure, scoring two well worked tries from Nathan Collins and a touchdown from Ewan Cibbens, but they ran out of time in what will go down as one of the best games of Wheelchair Rugby League the domestic game has seen.
Halifax: Wayne Boardman (c), Jack Brown, Nathan Mulhall, Stewart Walker, Gavin Dobson, Tom Martin, Robert Hawkins, Andy Atkinson, Annabel Hawkins.
Rhinos: James Simpson, Jodie Boyd-Ward, Ryan Richardson, Ewan Cibbens, Luis Domingos, Neil Harper, Tony Godward, Nathan Collins, Josh Butler, Tom Halliwell.
Referees: Steve Abel and Matt Ball
Goal Referees: David Abel and Joe Coyd