Five tries from Tom Halliwell and a perfect kicking performance from Nathan Collins led Leeds Rhinos to a successful defence of the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup title they won for the first time in 2019, beating The Argonauts 60-28 in Sheffield on Sunday.
Halliwell crossed for a five-minute first-half hat-trick as the Rhinos kept the Dartford side at arm’s length for much of the match, with Collins’ kicking game key to Leeds’ victory.
The reigning champions struck first when Jodie Boyd-Ward crossed in the left corner to give her side a lead they would never relinquish, with Collins converting from the touchline. Fred Nye reduced the deficit to 6-4, but a five-minute burst from the Rhinos midway through the first half set the tone for the rest of the game.
Halliwell grabbed a hat-trick in that spell, first crashing over next to the posts after a fantastic break from deep by Collins. His second came after a great reverse kick from Collins to the left found Halliwell in space, and he had a third in five minutes when breaking through a gap and avoiding the tackle of Joe Coyd to make it 24-4.
The Argonauts fought their way back into it as Lewis King crossed twice either side of a James Simpson try, first making the most of a great move featuring James Hazel and Coyd, then touching down after Hazel’s brilliant kick over the top on the last tackle.
Down 30-12 at half-time, the Argonauts edged closer immediately from the kick-off, Hazel reaching over between two tacklers where there appeared to be no gap. But a quickfire double gave Leeds a 24-point lead as Simpson cruised through from a show and go for his second, and then Halliwell grabbed his fourth after dummying and rolling into a gap.
But the Argonauts weren’t ready to give up, and Freya Levy scored the try of the game, finishing off a move which saw Hazel keep the ball alive with a pass over his head for Nye, who fed Levy for her first of the game. And Coyd soon added another after shaking off Simpson’s tackle to make the scored 42-28.
That was as close as they would get though, as Boyd-Ward added her second and then Halliwell went over for his fifth late on. Josh Butler rounded out the try-scoring under the sticks in the closing seconds, with Collins maintaining his 100% record from the tee, kicking a 10th goal.
Unsurprisingly, Halliwell was handed the Player of the Match award before skipper James Simpson lifted the trophy aloft for the second successive occasion.