Fans were left in awe of the England and France wheelchair rugby league teams as their international was broadcast live on BBC on Wednesday evening.
In a fine display of bravery, skill and agility, an entertaining game finished with a 49-24 win in favour of France at Medway Park.
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) November 10, 2021
The two sides meet again on Saturday.
The game was shown live on BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website.
Commentators Mark Wilson and Kyle Amor gushed over the quality of the game, with Wilson calling this try one of the best he’s ever commented on.
What amazing skill and bravery that was on show last night. Real privilege to be there to witness this, think this was worth the 9 hour round drive alone!
Gutted I can’t make it but good luck to both sets of player’s in the 2nd test this Saturday it promises to be a cracker 💥 https://t.co/Hcexo2diSE
— Kyle Amor (@kylejamor87) November 11, 2021
Paul Carney said: “How this version of RL isn’t as popular as it should be, baffles me. Exciting, fast and hard as nails.”
Another fan, Mark Attridge, thanked BBC for raising awareness of the game. He tweeted: “Surely I am not alone in wrongly assuming this may be a tame version of the game?! How wrong can one be……..you clearly need to be hard and brave as nails to play this game!”
Absolutely ridiculous ability, skill, spirit. Not enough superlatives. https://t.co/sr7YOx0ezt
— James Gordon (@jdgsport) November 10, 2021
@King_Buxton on twitter added: “Breathtaking! What always amazes me is that the wheelchair variant is immediately recognisable as RL. Most of the disabled sports bear no real relation to their able-bodied brethren.”
Paul Smith said: “That was both brilliant and absolutely brutal amazing.”
Huddersfield legend Eorl Crabtree said: “Wheelchair rugby league at its finest. Fast, aggressive and extremely skilful.”
Seriously. Watch this. Epic stuff. https://t.co/QzexZ2XP1T
— Adam Hills (@adamhillscomedy) November 10, 2021
How the match went
After a spectacular pre-match light show to greet the entry of the teams, there were no points for 17 minutes with some brutal defence.
France broke the deadlock with a penalty from Nicolas Clausells, and he also played a key part in a try for his brother five minutes later, then converted it to extend the lead to 8-0.
England hit back with a superb try for the Halifax Panthers youngster Rob Hawkins, converted by Joe Coyd from the local Argonauts club.
🎥 Highlights | England 24-49 France
🏉 The pick of the action from last night's memorable Wheelchair Rugby League Test Match 👇
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) November 11, 2021
But France seized control in the late stages of the first half with Gilles Clausells scoring his second try and Jeremy Bourson adding another, to extend their lead to 22-6.
Halliwell set up a try for his Leeds team-mate James Simpson to give England fresh hope early in the second half, but France stretched away again with clinical tries from Julien Panella and Lionel Alazard.
England hinted at an improbable fightback as Halliwell laid on a try for the lively Nathan Collins and then went over himself, with Collins converting both to reduce the arrears to 36-24.
But the French secured their victory when Dany Denuwelaere scored the try his formidable performance deserved, and applied further gloss with a second try for Bourson who completed the scoring with a drop goal.
England tries Collins, Halliwell, Hawkins, Simpson. Goals Coyd, Collins 2, Roberts.
France tries G Clausells 2, Bourson 2, Denuwelaere, Alazard, Penella. Goals N Clausells 7, G Clausells 3. Drop goal Bourson