England claim Wheelchair World Cup in nailbiting win over France

Embed from Getty Images

England have wrestled back the World Champion crown defeating France in a classic game of Wheelchair rugby league by 28-24 before a record crowd in Manchester.

France started the game the stronger side and got first points when Lionel Alazard knocked over a penalty goal. Alazard was rewarded with the game's opening try inside the first ten minutes. Unlike the group games, this match was going to be France's toughest test and England wouldn't let France walk over them like they had in the 2017 final.

England responded in the seventeenth minute when Tom Halliwell crossed for the first of his two tries. France responded eleven minutes later when Mostefa Abassi finished a clever overlap to cross for the French. The English side answered just before the break when Jack Brown crossed before the break, but England still trailed by two at the main break.

England started the second half the stronger side when they crossed for two tries to kick-off the second 40. Lewis King crossed straight after the break before Brown added his second try and the game was getting away from France, but against world history, the French wouldn't go quietly. Four minutes after Brown's double, Gilles Clausells crossed, and it was game on.

The last twenty minutes had it's fair share of controversy as the sides exchanged penalty goals to lock the scores up at 24-24. Most controversy surrounded the professionalism of French official Laurent Abrial who appeared to disagree with his officiating crew and appeared to act in a completely unprofessional manner at times. Unfortunately, this overshadowed what was a great game of football.

The game was decided in the final five minutes of play when Tom Halliwell sold the French team a dummy and crossed to give England the lead. Despite their best efforts, the French side were unable to overcome the result and deliver England their first Wheelchair World Cup since 2008. This tournament has been a great stride for the wheelchair game, as it's been run in conjunction with the men's and women's tournament.

Tries: Tom Halliwell 2, Jack Brown 2, Lewis King
Goals: Nathan Collins 3, Robert Hawkins 1

Tries: Lionel Alazard, Mostefa Abassi, Gilles Clausells
Goals: Nicolas Clausells 5, Lionel Alazard 1

Friday 18 November 2022, 7:30pm GMT
Venue: Manchester Central
Crowd: 4,526

Attack referee: Ollie Cruickshank
Defence referee: Laurent Abrial