England successfully defended their WRL Four Nations title in Rochdale over the past weekend, which saw some of the best international games the sport has seen.
The tournament started with Wales up against the Exiles – a team made up of a mix of Irish, Welsh and English players.
The Exiles started the game really well, they capitalised on some early nerves from Wales, and they held an early lead from two tries from Joshua Butler.
Despite Wales scoring a try through Andrew Higgins, the Exiles finished the first half on top, as Butler completed a first half hat trick to give them a six-point lead at half time.
The Welsh came out of the break a different side. They dominated the rest of the game after taking the lead when their vice captain Stuart Williams scored his first try of the game.
Higgins completed his hat trick and a try for James Roberts completed a great second half for Wales, as they won 42-18.
Tournament favorites and defending champions, England, started their tournament against Scotland.
England raced off to a good start as both Adam Barnett and Nathan Collins scored two tries each to give them an early 16-point lead.
They went up another gear when Barnett took his first half tally of tries to four and co-captain Martin Lane scored his first try of the game completing a good move from the team, as they extended the gap to 30 points.
England closed out the first half on top; Collins completed his hat trick, plus further tries from Keiron Johnson and Sebastian Bechara meant that England led 58=10 at half time.
England continued to dominate the game into the second half. They added three more tries through Bechara and a try each for James Simpson and Tom Haliwell and finished the game with a second-half hat trick for Ryan Richardson and another try for Simpson, comfortably winning the game 98-10.
THE SECOND ROUND OF FIXTURES BEGAN WITH SCOTLAND ENTERTAINING WALES, WHO WERE LOOKING TO PERFORM WELL FOLLOWING ON THEIR EXCELLENT WIN OVER THE EXILES.
Wales continued on from their excellent second half against the Exiles, with Stuart Williams, Mark Williams and Harry Jones all scoring a try each to put them ten points up early on.
Scotland took the game to Wales as Michael Mellon scored a try to close the gap to four points but a second Stuart Williams try gave Wales a ten point lead at the break.
Wales went up a gear from the break; a penalty and a drop goal from Andrew Higgins, followed by a try each for Mark Williams and Gary Preece put them 23 points clear.
Scotland did attempt to mount a late comeback as Mellon added a fourth try of the match and Daniel Grant scored his only try of game, but it wasn’t enough to catch Wales, who won their second game by a score 41-28.
England then showed off a masterclass of Wheelchair Rugby League against the Exiles, as they pulled off an impressive win in the final game held on Saturday.
They started on the front foot and opened the scoring with two tries from Nathan Collins, followed by a try each for Ryan Richardson and Tom Haliwell.
Collins completed an impressive first half hat trick for England. This was followed by a try each for Martin Lane, Adam Barnett and a first England try for Nathan Mulhall as England led 46-0 at half time.
England continued the strong performance into the second half; Collins added a fourth try of the game. And this was followed by a second try of the game for Richardson, and a first try of the game for James Simpson and Kieron Johnson.
England finished the game on a high; a second try of the game each for both Richardson and Lane, with two tries for Sebastian Bechara meaning that England picked up their second win of the tournament with a ninety four point to nil victory.
The final round of fixtures began on Sunday morning when the two unbeaten sides, England and Wales, played out a well-contested match.
England started the game with a try from Nathan Mulhall and an excellent acrobatic try for Martin Lane.
Wales were still holding onto England and they were just eight points behind them when Martin Beddis scored a try and an Andrew Higgins penalty kept them in the game.
A late try for Sebastian Bechara meant that England led by 14 points at half time. They further extended that lead into the second half when Tom Haliwell added two more tires for England.
England then dominated the rest of the game; Jodie Boyd-Ward, James Simpson and Nathan Collins all scoring tries and a late second try of the game for Mulhall meant that England progressed to the final unbeaten, as they won the game 56-14.
The final round-robin game of the tournament produced an exciting game between the Exiles and Scotland.
It was Scotland who started the game from the off, they added two quick tries through Daniel Grant.
But the Exiles were brought to life by Ewan Cibbens, he exploited the Scottish defence and scored five first half tries to give them a commanding lead.
Stewart Walker added two more tries for the Exiles, as they led by 40-12 at half time. After which they increased their lead with two tries for Joshua Butler, a sixth try of the game for Cibbens and a single try for Luis Domingues.
Scotland did get two more consolation tries through Daniel and Michael Grant, but they couldn’t catch the Exiles, as they completed an impressive 62-18 victory.
With the round robin phase of the tournament completed, the action moved onto the third and fourth place play-off between Scotland and the Exiles.
‘BRONZE MEDAL’ MATCH
Both sides put on a good game of Wheelchair Rugby League with the action going from end to end.
It was Scotland who opened the scoring; Michael Mellon continued to show that he was having a great tournament by adding two tries.
But it was the Exiles who gained the advantage when Josh Butler added two tries before Ewan Cibbens added a try just before half time to give the Exiles a two point lead.
The second half came alive when Butler completed a hat trick of tries, and this was followed by an excellently-timed drop goal from Cibbens to give the Exiles a seven-point lead.
Scotland worked hard to get back into the game, and they retook the lead when Mellon added to more tires – taking his tally to four for the game as they led by one point with ten minutes left of the game.
The Exiles gave up and they reinstated their lead following two well-worked tries from Tom Martin and Sebastian Groves.
Scotland almost caught the Exiles with a late try for Michael Grant, but the Exiles held on to the win and take an impressive third place with a 29-26 victory.
The Final of the tournament took place between Wales and an unbeaten England, in front of a packed out crowd.
England started the game well, with an impressive first half hat trick from Ryan Richardson and a try from their co-captain James Simpson. These four tries gave England an 18-point lead.
Wales did reply with a solo try from Andrew Higgins, but further England tries from Martin Lane and Adam Barnett mean that the led Wales by 24 points at half time.
Wales didn’t give up, though, and they got back into the game in the second half.
They scored three more tires, including one from Gavin Preece, as they clawed the gap back to 14 points.
But a late surge from England, including tries from Jodie Boyd-Ward and a second try of the game each from Lane and Barnett, meant that England retained the Four Nations trophy with a 52-26 win.
Stewart Walker (C), Luis Domingos, Tom Martin, Sebastian Groves, Josh Butler, Robert Hawkins, Ewan Clibbens, Tony Godward, Joseph Batchelor
Mark Williams (C), Stuart Williams, Andrew Higgins, Martin Beddis, Harry Jones, James Roberts, Gary Taylor, Alan Caron, Gary Preece
Graeme Stewart (C), Daniel Harris, Daniel Grant, Michael Grant, Gavin Dobson, Michael Mellon, John Cairns, Jay Anderson, Ronnie Robb, Stephen Carling
Martin Lane (C), James Simpson (C), Sebastian Bechara, Jodie Boyd-Ward, Adam Barnett, Tom Haliwell, Nathan Mulhall, Ryan Richardson, Nathan Collins, Kieron Johnson