Leyland Warriors wheelchair rugby league team travelled to Perpignan to face Catalans Dragons in the 2015 European Challenge Cup final.
Warriors got off to a good start when some strong defence forced a Dragons error and Chris Greenhalgh not only collected the loose ball but was able to race away from near his own try line to open the scoring, with Adam Rigby converting.
But Catalans gradually wrestled control of the game and dominated possession to score three tries and lead 18-6 as Leyland lost Martin Norris with a mechanical problem.
Leyland replied when Declan Roberts’ draw and pass saw Jack Heggie finish well in the corner before a disastrous five minutes saw Catalans add three further tries in succession without Leyland even touching the ball, to leave Warriors facing a tough task at 36-6 down at the break.
Warriors showed great character in the second half, playing some good flowing rugby in a period which finished 18-10, to give a more accurate reflection of the game.
A good set-up from Leyland on the right saw an overlap and Greenhalgh crossed for his second from Phil Roberts’ pass, with Rigby again on target with the extras.
Warriors’ final score came when Heggie’s quick play the ball allowed Greenhalgh to switch play and Roberts’ smart pass released Bailey Locke for a well taken try.
A disappointing result for Warriors but a superb experience for the whole side against a team which has dominated the French game for several years, in a league where the standard and intensity is higher than the British league.
This will have given Leyland a superb platform for the remainder of the domestic season as they look to retain their title in 2015.
n Warriors Under-18s recorded a thumping 50-8 victory at travelled to Flintshire Falcons.
They got off to a less than auspicious start as they failed to complete their first three sets of six tackles.
But their strong defence soon put them firmly in control of the game.
After 10 minutes, good hands saw Hakan Cimen in space and his pass found Nathan Blamire who scored in the corner, with Bailey Locke adding the touchline conversion.
Blamire also added the second after a break by James Jeffers, Locke again converting.
Leyland’s forward then put a great set together with strong carries from John Cain, Matt Clegg and Shaun McNicholas driving deep into the Falcons half before Joe Haddon crashed over, with Locke on target again.
Falcons retaliated with a well-worked try out wide and several technical penalties conceded by Warriors then gave Flintshire 23 consecutive tackles on Leyland’s line but the defence was superb and the hosts were unable to score.
On the counter, Jake Cartwright and Ben Wilkins quick scoots got Flintshire on the back foot and McNicholas hit a great line to break through and fend away tacklers to score from halfway, with Locke’s conversion completing the first half.
In the second half, Jack O’Regan scythed through the line and released Cimen, who smashed between defenders to score, before Blamire backed up well to complete his hat-trick, with Locke adding the extras.
Declan Roberts then threw several dummies to score untouched and Locke converted.
Good set-up play from Jeffers and Cartwright on the left saw a big shift to the right and Mark Jackson’s pass saw Ben Wilkins score out wide with Locke converting.
When Blamire burst through, he released Wilkins who raced away to score in the corner to complete their scoring, although the last word came from a Falcons’ score.
n Warriors Under-11s recorded an excellent 24-16 success against Ashton Bears.
Great attacking play led to Leyland scoring first through an impressive Daniel Rimmer try, which he also converted.
Bears replied with a quick try themselves but missed the conversion.
Ethan Cockcroft and top tackler James Broadfield then began to work their magic, passing the ball out to the edges before Broadfield burst through a gap and found the supporting Harvey Benson who outpaced all the defenders to score a cracking try, which he also converted.
But Leyland were then stretched out wide and the Bears took full advantage and scored an unconverted try in the corner.
In the second half, Ashton scored first.
In reply, great running from Jacob Cross and Josh Hignett saw the ball passed out wide to Matthew Qiunn, who the fed his winger Alex Rodgers who scored in the corner. Rimmer tagged on the extras.
After Ashton scored again, Leyland got the ball deep in their own half and with some surging runs by Rimmer and Broadfield, they found themselves in a good attack position from where star man Benson pounced to score a superb try which won the game.
For good measure, Cockcroft added the extras.
n Warriors Under-9s played out a thrilling 24-24 draw against Newton Storm.
Captain Harry Jones scored a hat-trick of tries, star man was Ellis Grice and top tackler was Declan Fell.