Leeds Rhinos win Wheelchair Super League Grand Final to complete treble triumph
Victory in the Betfred Wheelchair Super League Grand Final completed an historic treble for Leeds Rhinos and an unbeaten season.
Ewan Clibbens, Nathan Collins and James Simpson each scored a hat-trick in the Challenge Cup holders and league leaders’ 52-36 win over Leyland Warriors at Gillingham’s Medway Park.
Collins added six goals in a man of the match performance, but Rhinos - who went into the final as hot favourites - were given a fright when they trailed 24-22 early in the second half.
Clibbens described the final as “the most gruelling game we’ve played all year”.
Reflecting on Rhinos’ triumph, he said: “I am ready to sleep for two weeks, but I could not be prouder of the team and the effort we’ve put in.
“Everything has come together and it’s the cherry on the top of what has been an awful season for Covid and recovering from last year.
“It has been the perfect send-off and next season hopefully we can keep breaking records and making history.”
Rhinos - who used only their starting five players - raced into an early 18-0 lead through touchdowns by Clibbens, Collins and Simpson, but three tries from Declan Roberts, all of which he converted, levelled the scores four minutes remaining in the first half.
Simpson’s second try edged Rhinos back ahead at the break, but a touchdown from Jack Heggie, converted by Roberts, gave Warriors a shock two-point lead.
Jodie Boyd-Ward steadied Rhinos’ ship with a try on 52 minutes and Leeds began to control the game as Collins and Clibbens both touched down to open a 16-point gap.
Clibbens completed his hat-trick 12 minutes from time, before Collins repeated the feat with 10 minutes left.
Warriors pulled two tries back, through Martin Norris and Adam Rigby - Roberts adding the extras both times - but Simpson ended the scoring with his third touchdown.
“It was a battle,” Simpson admitted.
“This has been a long time coming and it is down to the ethos and hard work - we have worked hard for each other all season.”