Wheelchair Super League heavyweights Halifax Panthers and Leeds Rhinos made a 100% start to the 2021 season – although in the case of the Panthers, only after a fright from Hull FC.
The campaign began with two triangular series on either side of the Pennines, with Hull hosting Halifax and the Argonauts from Kent, while Leeds Rhinos and North Wales Crusaders travelled to Lancashire to face Leyland Warriors in Preston.
And Hull FC, who were making their Wheelchair Super League debut – which had been delayed 12 months by the Covid-19 pandemic – made an immediate impact as they took a 30-18 half-time lead against the 2019 Grand Final winners.
However Halifax, playing under the club’s new Panthers nickname for the first time in the Super League, drew on their experience and class to dominate the second half for a 68-40 win.
They maintained that momentum in their second game against the Argonauts, surging to a 20-0 lead – only for the Skeleton Army to reduce the arrears to 22-18 just before half-time.
Again, the Panthers produced an impressive second half performance to run out 64-44 winners – although the Argonauts bounced back in the last game of the day against Hull, taking a 32-10 half-time lead and adding a further 44 points without reply after the break.
In the. other day’s triple-header, Our League showcased the class of the Rhinos as they won twice at Preston College, the home of Leyland Warriors.
Leyland were quick off the mark in game one, clocking up an unassailable 40-9 half time lead against the visiting North Wales Crusaders side.
And there was no letting up in the second half as they produced 40 more to round off an impressive 80-9 round one win.
Game two saw Leeds Rhinos face off with North Wales and they wasted no time in getting ahead, led around by the impressive Tom Halliwell.
Josh Butler was a fist-half scorer for the Rhinos as they were 54-6 up by half time.
🔥 Josh Butler scoots through for a @leedsrhinos try in the first half!
🦏 The Rhinos lead North Wales 54-6 at half-time.
— Rugby Football League (@TheRFL) May 29, 2021
Halliwell was again to the fore in the second period and ended as Player of the Match with Leeds going 86-6 up approaching the final stages.
But North Wales stayed in the wrestle and would enjoy a late purple patch, racking up 20 points of their own as the clock ticked down to full time. The final score being 86-26 to Leeds.
And Leeds were quick to turn around and tackle the ambitious Warriors in game three.
They flew out of the blocks and into an early 16-0 lead before Leyland go to within six points mid-way through the first period.
But it was Halliwell who broke the game open again and would lead the visitors to a 28-10 half time advantage.
The Warriors continued to hold a threat in the second period with 12 further points but it wasn’t enough as Halliwell, named as Player of the Match for the second time in the day, led the Rhinos charge to a hard-fought 44-30 win.