England Community Lions lifted the inaugural Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) World Cup – and with it England’s first Rugby League World Cup trophy of 2022 – with a sensational 42-10 defeat of New Zealand at Warrington.
And they did so thanks in large part to stellar performances from Leeds Rhinos’ Sam Zeller and Wakefield Trinity’s Callum Parkinson, the latter richly deserving his player-of-the-final award. Zeller grabbed two tries, including a 90 metre solo direct from dummy half in the first half, while Parkinson found himself at the centre of everything in both attack and defence.
England went into the final unbeaten in group stage action against Australia, New Zealand and Wales, but it was New Zealand who applied the early pressure. Delta Taeauga, Tim Ragg and Mal Davis all went close for New Zealand in the early stages, only to be denied by magnificent scrambling defence from England.
Storm weathered, England turned defence into attack through Zeller and Parkinson, and after Tommy Pouncey was halted close to the line his Leeds Rhinos teammate Nick Leigh found his way over for England’s first try.
New Zealand almost hit back immediately through Michael Kulene, only to be grounded again by the lethal Zeller/Parkinson combination, Zeller finishing superbly to extend England’s lead to 8-0 and converting his own try to make it 10-0.
On 17 minutes skipper Scott Gobin burst through from half way off a neat Adam Morris pass, Zeller’s conversion making the score England 16 New Zealand 0.
With half time approaching New Zealand’s Matthew Slade was smartly closed down by Parkinson, before the Kiwis finally got on the scoresheet through the ever-dangerous Roko Nailolo as the hooter sounded to reduce the arrears to by four points.
New Zealand needed to score next – and almost did through Kulene, who was denied by a superb ankle tap from who else but Parkinson, before Zeller raced 90 metres to rub salt into Kiwi wounds.
Kulene deservedly score got on the scoresheet on 35 minutes, but further second half tries from Pouncey, Adam Fleming, Nick Kennedy and Gobin cemented England’s place in the history books.
Tries: Leigh (8), Zeller (12, 27), Gobin (17, 47), Pouncey (31), Fleming (38), Kennedy (43)
Goals: Zeller (3), Dean (1), Gobin (1)
Tries: Arolo (25), Kulene (35)
Goals: Nailolo (1