Leeds Rhinos suffer Challenge Cup semi-final agony as Wigan Warriors reach wheelchair rugby league showpiece

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Leeds Rhinos’ hopes of a fifth successive Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup final appearance are over following a 48-30 loss to Wigan Warriors in today’s semi-final.

Rhinos - winners in 2019, 2020 and 2022 and runners-up last year - failed to produce their best form and were beaten eight tries to five at the University of Hull. Wigan also beat Leeds in last year’s Super League Grand Final.

Rhinos made too many errors in good field position and lapses of concentration at crucial times proved costly - most notably when they cut the deficit to six points midway through the second half, then allowed Wigan to score direct from the kick-off.

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Rhinos opened the scoring through Tom Halliwell, but Wigan went 18-4 ahead late in the opening period before an eight-point try got Leeds back in the game, Jodie Boyd-Ward crossing and Nathan Collins adding on the conversion and a subsequent penalty.

Leeds Rhinos wheelchair coach James Simpson. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Leeds Rhinos wheelchair coach James Simpson. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Leeds Rhinos wheelchair coach James Simpson. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Collins’ try and goal levelled the scores a minute after the break and though Wigan went 30-18 ahead, Leeds seemed to be getting on top when Boyd-Ward scored her second and Collins landed the conversion. But Wigan scored direct from the kick-off to take a grip on the game and went 48-24 ahead before Josh Butler scored a late consolation try which Halliwell converted.

Rhinos coach James Simpson admitted: “We just didn’t click, we didn’t look like the team we are known to be. Take nothing away from Wigan, they were brilliant - they came on to the ball at pace with good, hard carries which are what cup football’s all about.”

Player/coach Chris Greenhalgh scored Wigan’s three tries before the break. Jack Heggie and Adam Rigby both crossed twice afterwards and Declan Roberts scored a try and eight conversions.

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