Wales internationals all lifted trophies in Sunday’s three RFL elite Grand Finals, which was always going to be the case as there was at least one international player in all six sides writes Ian Golden. Pics: SW Pix.
North Wales Crusaders finished their season in the RFL Wheelchair Championship with an unbeaten season after beating Wigan Warriors A 46-40 in the Grand Final in Manchester.
The Welsh had to fight for their victory after being 22-8 down at half-time. Stephen Halsey, as always this year, led the way for Crusaders with four tries and seven goals. All of their other scores came from international players with Lucie Roberts grounding twice, and Ricki Davies and Harry Jones with one each. Mason Baker and Jonathan Gill completed the starting line-up, with Wyatt Jones, Jess Booth, Jakub Wasieczko, Martin Turner and Matthew Turner all contributing from the bench.
Crusaders eventually overtook midway through the second half, when the score was 30-28. They went into a 46-28 lead before a Wigan fightback. Their Welsh international Mark Williams scored a try and four goals, including the final six points of the game to make the score 46-40 but Crusaders held on. The victory doesn’t mean automatic promotion for the Crusaders, despite dominating throughout 2023 – they’ll need to apply for a place in next season’s Super League.
Wigan’s reserve side may have lost the Championship final, but their first team took the Super League trophy in dramatic fashion, beating Leeds Rhinos 50-42. Wales international Martin Lane lined up for Wigan in his first game for the club since July and was our player of the match, scoring two tries – one in the 19th minute and the other being the match clincher with three minutes to go. He also made a number of try-saving tackles. Jodie Boyd-Ward captained Leeds and was first on the board for her side with a try in the corner, which at the time brought the scores back to 6-4. She ended up with a hat-trick of tries. Wigan, who were competing in their first Grand Final, were 28-16 up at half-time.
Finally, London Broncos completed their superb end-of-season form with an 18-14 win at Toulouse Olympique XIII to gain promotion to Super League. It was totally against the odds as Toulouse were unbeaten at home in 2023, echoing a similar London victory in Toronto in 2018 the last time they were promoted to the top flight. Dalton Grant didn’t get over the line but he did make a significant contribution for London. However, Josh Ralph did get over the line for Toulouse, putting them 12-0 up at the time.