England Wheelchair 62-48 France: Tom Halliwell leads from front as hosts complete hat-trick of home mid-season international wins

England Wheelchair head coach Tom Coyd: “That was the game we needed – credit to France for putting us under pressure, and to our players for responding in the right way.” | England captain Tom Halliwell said: “It’s amazing, going back to 2019 since we last beat them.”

Last Updated: 19/06/22 6:45pm

France’s Guillaume Mautz is tackled England’s Seb Bechara

England Wheelchair completed a hat-trick of home wins in the mid-season internationals with a 62-48 victory over France at the Manchester Basketball Centre.

That followed wins for England’s Women and Men in the double header at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday, against France and the Combined Nations All Stars respectively – a timely tonic for all three England teams in their preparations for the Rugby League World Cup later this year.

Tom Coyd, the England Wheelchair head coach, said: “That was the game we needed – credit to France for putting us under pressure, and to our players for responding in the right way.

“It was another great occasion for Wheelchair Rugby League, our first international live on Sky Sports, and we’re delighted to have rounded off a good weekend for England.

“These games were important for all three teams as a checkpoint with a few months to go until the World Cup. We can’t wait for the tournament to kick off, and we hope England fans feel the same way.”

England had suffered a 2-0 home series defeat last autumn against France, who are the reigning world champions.

But they bounced back to regain the Fassolette-Kielty Trophy, named after the two founding fathers of Wheelchair Rugby League, with a controlled performance featuring 11 tries.

Tom Halliwell of Leeds Rhinos led from the front and scored two of them, with Seb Bechara of the Catalans Dragons and the London Roosters team-mates Joe Coyd and Lewis King also collecting doubles.

England's Nathan Collins is tackled by France's Damien Dore

England’s Nathan Collins is tackled by France’s Damien Dore

Nathan Collins of Leeds, Declan Roberts of Wigan Warriors and Rob Hawkins of Halifax Panthers shared the remaining three tries, with Collins kicking six conversions for a personal tally of 16 points, and Roberts landing three goals.

France’s outstanding captain Lionel Alazard of Montauban scored 30 of their points with three tries and nine goals, with their other tries coming from Thomas Duhalde, Damien Dore and Florian Guttadoro (two).

There will be another Anglo-French clash next Saturday, as Catalans Dragons take on Leeds Rhinos in the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final in Hull – meaning Bechara squaring up against his England team-mates Halliwell, Collins and Josh Butler.

England's Lewis King scores the second try

England’s Lewis King scores the second try

On the win England captain Halliwell said: “It’s amazing, going back to 2019 since we last beat them.

“We can’t get too high and we can’t enjoy this one too much. Obviously we’ll enjoy it tonight, but we’ve got to get our heads screwed on and get ready for November when we’ll probably play these again in the [World Cup] final.”

He added: “We’ll probably review the last 20 minutes – we let in three cheap tries and it was probably a lot closer than what it should have been, to be honest. But we’ll have a review, look at areas we did good and bad, and go away and work on them in camp.”

England tries: Bechara 2, King 2, Halliwell 2, Coyd 2, Roberts, Collins, Hawkins; goals Collins 6, Roberts 3.

France tries: Alazard 3, Guttadoro 2, Duhalde, Dore; goals Alazard 9; drop goals Duhalde, Guttadoro.

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