THIRD TIME was the charm for Leeds Rhinos’ triumphant wheelchair rugby league team.
Rhinos stunned favourites and league leaders Halifax 54-44 in Saturday’s Grand Final at Medway Park, Gillingham.
It was sweet revenge for Leeds who had been beaten by Halifax in the two previous title deciders.
“It has been a long road, a long nearly five years to get to this point,” said Leeds’ delighted captain James Simpson.
“We took our time, we said at certain stages of the game we were going to be really slow and methodical and then ramp it up when we were in the right place and that’s what we did.”
Rhinos raced into a 30-16 half-time lead and were 50-28 ahead with 17 minutes left.
Halifax hit back to narrow the gap in the closing stages, but Josh Butler’s late try settled Leeds’ nerves.
Rhinos’ Tom Hallwell was named the game’s most valuable player.
He said: “It is something new for Leeds, this is our first major trophy.
“We knew we had to put in a solid performance in defence. In the season our defence has been poor and we knew we had to do do something and play off-the-cuff.
“There were moments in the game when I was pinching myself, thinking ‘is this real’?
“I am gobsmacked, I can’t believe we won.”