Leyland Warriors wheelchair rugby league team suffered heartbreak, going down 54-20 in Perpignan against Catalans Dragons in the 2015 European Challenge Cup final.
Warriors got off to a good start when some strong defence forced a Dragons error and Chris Greenhalgh not only collected the loose ball but was able to race away from near his own try line to open the scoring, with Adam Rigby converting.
But Catalans gradually wrestled control of the game and dominated possession to score three tries and lead 18-6, as Leyland lost Martin Norris with a mechanical problem.
Leyland replied when Declan Roberts’ draw and pass saw Jack Heggie finish well in the corner, before a shocking five minutes saw Catalans add three further tries in succession without Leyland even touching the ball, to leave Warriors facing a tough task at 36-6 down at the break.
Warriors showed great character in the second half, playing some good flowing rugby in a period which finished 18-10, to give a more accurate reflection of the game.
A good set-up from Leyland on the right saw an overlap, and Greenhalgh crossed for his second from Phil Roberts’ pass, with Rigby again on target with the extras.
Warriors’ final score came when Heggie’s quick play-the-ball allowed Greenhalgh to switch play and Roberts’ smart pass released Bailey Locke for a well-taken try.
It was a disappointing result for Warriors but a superb experience against a team which has dominated the French game for several years, in a league where the standard and intensity is higher than the British league.
Warriors Under-18s recorded a thumping 50-8 victory when they travelled to Flintshire Falcons.
After 10 minutes, good hands saw Hakan Cimen in space and his pass found Nathan Blamire who scored in the corner, with Bailey Locke adding the conversion.
Blamire added the second after a break by James Jeffers, with Locke again converting.
Leyland’s forwards then put a great set together with strong carries from John Cain, Matt Clegg and Shaun McNicholas driving deep into the Falcons half, before Joe Haddon crashed over, with Locke on target again.
Falcons retaliated with a well-worked try out wide.
On the counter, Jake Cartwright and Ben Wilkins got Flintshire on the back foot and McNicholas hit a great line to break through to score from halfway, with Locke’s conversion completing the first half.
In the second half, Jack O’Regan released Cimen to score, before Blamire backed up well to complete his hat-trick, with Locke adding the extras. Declan Roberts then threw several dummies to score untouched and Locke converted.
Two further tries came from Ben Wilkins.
But the last word came from a Falcons’ score.
Leyland Warriors Under-11s recorded an excellent 24-16 success against Ashton Bears.