Toronto Crowned were crowned Champions of the Betfred Championship, with the 6,329 in attendance at the Lamport Stadium witnessing the club secure the shield with a 68-4 win over a resilient Sheffield side.
With the Wolfpack on the hunt for the shield, things got off to a great start when Chase Stanley crossed the line after five minutes. Gareth O’Brien was the kicker again today, and missed just two of his twelve kicks during the game. Ryan Brierley would get on the score sheet after eight minutes, and after 12 minutes Greg Worthington thought he had added a third for Toronto, but the game was called back for a knock on during the build up and so the try would not count.
After 19 minutes, a sloppy pass out to Liam Kay, ten meters from the Sheffield try line, was intercepted by Jake Spedding, and despite the chase from Kay and Brierley, Spedding would make an impressive run the length of the field to put points on the board for the visitors. Oscar Thomas stepped up for the kick, but his effort was just wide of the posts.
Bob Beswick and Richard Whiting would find their way through in quick succession, and after 30 minutes, Sheffield captain Matt James was sent to the sin bin for a bad challenge which Toronto did not take kindly to.
Two minutes before the half time whistle, Brierley played a perfect high pass, finding Adam Higson in space on his first game back from injury, and saw the Wolfpack end the half 28-4. The second half saw Higson, Nick Rawsthorne and Blake Wallace all break through to score, and with ten minutes to play, Chase Stanley broke through again to add his second try of the game.
Liam Kay undoubtedly won “try of the game”, intercepting a loose pass and kicking the ball upfield. He chased the ball halfway up the pitch, kicking the ball again and keeping ahead of the chasing Eagles, before scooping the ball up for a try which he ran the entire field to score.
With seconds before the final whistle, Andrew Dixon would crash through the Sheffield line to score, ending the game 68-4, and crowning Toronto the Championship Champions.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
The Job is not Done
If you are able to, I want you to see the players celebrate when they were handed the shield. Their celebration was short but sweet. At the start of the season, if you had asked Toronto what the aim of the season was, they would not have said “to win the Championship”. There is only one goal as far as they are concerned; Super League.
The players are understandably proud to lift the shield and very happy, but that was not the aim of the season. To them, it was an inevitability. If they don’t earn promotion through the middle 8’s to the Super League, they will see this season as a failure. That is how high the bar has been set.
For the Toronto players, the hard work is just about to start. The Wolfpack have their sights set firmly on Super League, and they are not about to let up and celebrate early. The season is not over for them. Each player is focused, determined, ambitious. They are ready for the middle 8’s and they want every team that is to come to know that they are ready, and they will not ease up until they earn that illustrious Super League spot.
Man Of The Match- Gareth O’Brien (Toronto Wolfpack)
The Air Transat Man of the Match today was given to Liam Kay because of his impressive try and his hard work today. But for me, the work of Gareth O’Brien today cannot go unnoticed. He is arguably Toronto’s strongest player, and he is finding form in both his kicking and his open play at the right time for Toronto.
Not only kicking ten out of twelve kicks today for Toronto, he broke the Sheffield defence time and time again. He was crucial in the build up to a number of tries today, as well as scoring himself, and so for me he edged the man of the match award from Kay today.
Toronto Wolfpack 68
Tries: Chase Stanley 2, Ryan Brierley, Bob Beswick, Adam Higson 2, Gareth O’Brien, Nick Rawsthorne, Blake Wallace, Liam Kay, Andrew Dixon, Richard Whiting.
Goals: Gareth O’Brien 10
Drop Goals: n/a
Sheffield Eagles 4
Tries: Jake Spedding
Drop Goals: n/a
Toronto Wolfpack: Gareth O’Brien, Adam Higson, Greg Worthington, Chase Stanley, Liam Kay, Blake Wallace, Ryan Brierley, Darcy Lussick, Bob Beswick, Ashton Sims, Andrew Dixon, Richard Whiting, Jake Emmitt. Substitutes – Andy Ackers, Adam Sidlow, Olsi Krasniqi, Nick Rawsthorne.
Sheffield Eagles: Ryan Millar, Menzie Yere, Joshua Toole, Jake Spedding, Oscar Thomas, Cory Aston, Mark Offerdahl, Matty Fozard, Shaun Pick, Jack Ashworth, Olly Davies, Matt James. Substitutes – Max Garcia, Greg Burns, Paddy Burns, Mike Weldon.