Dragons qualified for the Challenge Cup Final
Catalans Dragons to face Leeds Rhinos in 2022 Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final
Leeds Rhinos will defend their Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup against the Catalans Dragons next month after both teams came through a qualifying Festival in Hull.
That will mean Anglo-French encounters on consecutive weekends, as the Cup Final on June 25 is six days after England play France in Manchester in a Mid-Season International – a rivalry which is expected to recur in the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup in England this autumn.
The Rhinos, who have become the dominant force in the domestic game in recent years winning consecutive Challenge Cups in 2019 and 2021 and adding the Betfred Wheelchair Super League title last year, were the only team to maintain a 100% record throughout the Festival.
They won all six of their matches in the Round Robin stage, including an 8-0 victory against the Catalans, and then beat their old rivals Halifax Panthers 36-6 in the semi final – with England star Nathan Collins scoring 20 of their points through two tries and six goals, and Josh Butler also touching down twice.
But the Dragons, who had flown in from Perpignan on Friday night after accepting an invitation to play in the Challenge Cup for the first time in its current form, grew stronger as the day progressed.
After losing that opening match against Leeds, they strung together six consecutive wins, culminating in a 34-6 demolition of Wigan Warriors in their semi final – with Seb Bechara, who will play for England in the World Cup, influential alongside a number of France internationals.
Wigan had come third in the Round Robin with four wins, and Halifax were fourth after three wins and three defeats in their six matches – effectively sealing their semi final spot with a 10-6 win against London Roosters, who finished fifth.
Hull FC claimed a morale boosting 18-4 victory over Warrington Wolves to ensure they had something to show for their efforts at the Allam Arena.
In the five-team Trophy competition which ran alongside the main tournament, Gravesend Dynamite were dominant throughout to secure a place in the Final against Mersey Storm, who beat Woodland Warriors in a tight semi final.