Ian Golden and Harry Jones review the penultimate weekend of the 2023 elite domestic season, looking at Welsh internationals and hopefuls. Pic: David Gibson
It was always guaranteed that there would be a Welsh winner in the RFL men’s Championship Final, selection pending of course, as Wales internationals faced up to each other in last weekend’s semi-finals.
The first game, in France on Saturday, saw Toulouse Olympique XIII see out Bradford Bulls 38-20 in a game streamed live online. Josh Ralph was among the scorers for Toulouse with Chester Butler turning out for Bradford.
Sunday’s dramatic second semi-final was broadcast live on Viaplay Sports with Featherstone Rovers, who fielded Caleb Aekins, hot favourites to beat an albeit on form London Broncos. However, it was Dalton Grant and the capital side who were the stars. His second-half try put Broncos 30-12 up and despite a late Rovers comeback, they held on for a 36-26 win.
There won’t be a Welsh match-up in next Sunday’s Wheelchair Super League Grand Final after Wigan Warriors beat London Roosters 43-34 to qualify for a meeting with Jodie Boyd-Ward‘s Leeds Rhinos. Scott Trigg-Turner went over for two tries for the Roosters but it wasn’t enough to beat a Wigan side who took the lead in the ninth minute and were then never behind.
North Wales Crusaders secured their place in this Sunday’s Betfred Wheelchair Championship Grand Final in Manchester, which will played before the Wheelchair Super League showpiece, with a convincing 79-8 victory over former Champions, Bradford Bulls. They’ll go into the game, which is against Wigan Warriors A, with a 100 percent record in 2023.
Stephen Halsey was the star of the first half for Crusaders against Wigan A, scoring his side’s first 36 points which consisted of five tries, five conversions and three penalties, two of which were from the half-way line. Halsey then put Johnny Gill under the sticks for their next score, before Gill set up Harry Jones. Halsey’s conversions put Crusaders 48-7 up at half-time.
It took the Crusaders just five minutes to get the first score of the second half, after Halsey crossed and converted, then added a drop-goal. Ricki Davies was next to score, then player-coach Harry Jones again just after the hour mark, before being replaced by Wyatt Jones for his first appearance since the season opener, scoring his first-ever try for the Crusaders’ first team. Jessica Booth made their first team debut late in the second half. Halsey finished up with a personal tally of 55 points following his seventh try of the game.
The Women’s Super League Grand Final was another chance for Leeds Rhinos to win silverware but sadly for Bethan Dainton and her side, they were runners up for a second time in a final this season, losing out 16-6 to York Valkyrie. In the Championship promotion final, Keira McCosh and her Leigh Leopards side lost 14-8 to Barrow Raiders.