A brave effort from the Hull FC Wheelchair side ultiamtely saw them fall short in Saturday’s Wheelchair Rugby League Challenge Trophy Final, going down 42-75 to Gravesend Dynamite
Hull ran into an early 16-0 lead over the Kent side at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, but couldn’t hold on in the latter stages of the game, failing to take home the trophy in the very first edition of the competition for sides outside the Wheelchair Rugby League Super League.
FC played with a father and son partnership in their team - 24-year old captain Billy Swainger, who scored five of Hull’s eight tries, played bravely in defeat alongside team coach Mike. Tristan Norfolk scored the other 22 points through three tries and five goals.
Gravesend’s Jason Owen engineered the first-half fightback, in which Dynamite lived up to their nickname with a devastating burst of 35 points, and was named player of the match as one of two Gravesend players to score a hat-trick of tries – in addition to chipping over a delightful drop goal.
Meanwhile Gravesend’s 54-year-old captain Nevil Hope steered his team around the field without troubling the scorers, while his 16-year-old son Ben amassed 24 points from four tries and four goals.
For Mike Swainger, there was plenty of pride even in defeat – from the performance of his Hull team, and especially his son.
“I think their experience told, and especially their chair skills,” he said. “But I couldn’t be prouder of the lads. We’ve got players in their first or second season, and we’ve all gained so much from this experience.
“Billy was the stand-out player and really led us forward. It wasn’t enough today, but hopefully we’ll be in the Super League next year and go to another level.”
However, it’s not doom and gloom for Hull, who depsite losing the final are in a strong position in the Wheelchair Rugby League Championship, sitting top of the league with just a handful of fixtures to go.
Hull will be hoping to claim top spot in their final three games of the 2019 campaign, battling hard with fellow challengers Bradford Bulls for promotion to the Wheelchair Rugby League Super League in 2020.
After being formed in 2013, the side have gone to strength to strength in recent seasons, and even recorded their record victory earlier this season against North Wales, winning 190-10!
Speaking to hullfc.com, Swainger said: “It’s all about taking things step by step for the moment, but getting into the Super League is definitely something we are looking at for the future.
“There are facility requirements to enter a team into the Super League, such as size of the playing court, so that’s an obstacle we will have to overcome in the foreseeable future if we want to play at the top level.”