A perfect opening weekend from Halifax Panthers saw the blue and white army deliver solid results over 2 of their biggest rivals to instantly move up to second place in the Betfred Wheelchair Super League.
Four tries apiece from Rob Hawkins and Jeremy Bourson helped the Panthers to a solid opening day 52-44 win over Champions Leeds Rhinos on Saturday. An eagerly awaited fixture from the day the fixtures were issued that certainly didn’t fail to deliver.
Halifax started the game well and as Leeds struggled to get their hands on the ball with the Panthers racing into a 16 point lead. Leeds Rhinos showcased they were not 2021 triple trophy winners for nothing, and soon displayed their skills to turn the pressure in their favour as Halifax’s momentum dropped.
Somewhat of a turning point was when Leeds lost Ewan Clibbens due to shoulder injury with Halifax gaining a upper hand temporarily and went in at half time 40-32 up. Whilst Clibbens came back on in the second half temporarily, he wasn’t as effective. However, the Leeds attack kept Halifax honest in their defence. And whilst the Panthers rotated their squad, they needed to put their starting 5 on to keep Leeds at bay.
At 52 -44 to the Halifax Panthers, Leeds sustained another serious injury to Jodie Boyd- Ward to add to the now retired Ewan Clibbens, which resulted in the game being forfeited. Robert Hawkins was the ‘Fax standout player with Jeremy Bourson running him close. Nathan Collins and Tom Helliwell were always a handful from the Leeds Rhinos ranks but the home side ended up with a solid victory in the opening round.
On Sunday, league leaders Wigan Warriors arrived at Calderdale College with an perfect 100% record. Although it wouldn’t last the weekend as the Panthers showed their prominence with another good win, the score this time finishing 76-64.
Wigan Warriors came over the Pennines with a very experienced team. Halifax Panthers with their second game in two day, would have been forgiven for a sluggish start. However, Bourson set up a Bechara score and then a Hawkins try with Rob Hawkins converting his own score gave ‘Fax an early 10-0 lead.
They went 14-0 up with a Wayne Boardman try. However, the momentum swung the other way as Wigan got their hands on the ball and Halifax became scruffy and made numerous mistakes. Declan and Phil Roberts began to run the show for Wigan to assist in tries from Martin Norris and Adam Rigby, both
converted by Declan Roberts.
Halifax regained their composure and managed to go in at half time 38 -24.
The second half became script you could hardly write as Wigan took a straggle hold of the half, and game it appeared 38- 58 with 20 minutes remaining as Coach Nathan Mulhall made some inspirational changes to the team, plus Halifax took the errors out of their game.
And when Wigan coughed up possession, ‘Fax scored through the efforts of Sebastian Bechara converted by Rob Hawkins. From there the game swung totally the Yorkshire sides way as they scored back to back 6 pointers making it 66 -58 with 10 minutes remaining, it was anyone’s game. Bourson was on fire now and soon provided 2 tries for Tom Martin.
With 2 minutes left, Wigan were not going to lie down and scored a converted try to finish the game. Final score 76 – 64 to a Panthers side who will need a little more consistency in the performance. However, a great start of played 2 won 2 to end the opening weekend with plenty to be encouraged about for Nathan Mulhall’s side
#PanthersAreInTown #ChooseFax #MoreThanAGame