Swinton Lions RLFC is set to host a World Cup warm-up match, with Wales and Lebanon scheduled to meet at Heywood Road, Sale, on Saturday 8 October, with a 3pm kick-off.
Lions’ CEO Steve Wild revealed, “At Swinton we are absolutely thrilled and honoured to be hosting this incredibly attractive pre-World Cup warm-up match between Wales and Lebanon. Firstly I want to thank our stadium hosts Sale FC Rugby Club for their enthusiasm and co-operation in making the game a reality. This event underlines the fantastic relationship we enjoy at Heywood Road.
“Going back to our Station Road days, Swinton Lions has a long tradition of hosting international matches, and it’s a great pleasure to be able to resurrect that tradition at Sale. Perhaps we’ll even see a couple of Swinton lads in the Welsh line-up, with Rhodri Lloyd and Mike Butt hopefully making the squad.
“We also hope that the Greater Manchester public, including of course the Lebanese community and those with a Welsh affiliation, will take this opportunity to see some top class international rugby league at Heywood Road, which is only 4 miles from Old Trafford, the venue for the World Cup Final itself. Both competing nations have been a pleasure to deal with in the build-up, and I’ve no doubt that we will see a wonderful celebration of our sport on 8th October.”
Chair of Wales Rugby League, Brian Juliff, said, “Wales Rugby League is eagerly looking forward to the pre-World Cup fixture against Lebanon Rugby League on 8 October.
“Lebanon are a quality team, coached by former Australian Rugby Union stalwart Michael Cheika, and populated with a core of experienced Australian NRL players. This will provide us with a perfect match as we prepare our squad to face very similar opposition in the qualifying rounds at the finals.
“Our opening game at the World Cup is against the Cook Islands who are of a similar player group to Lebanon, so this game will be formative to our preparations. We anticipate a tough and entertaining encounter against Lebanon, and we will field our strongest team in front of a big crowd at Heywood Road, Sale.
“Wales Rugby League is very grateful to Swinton Lions RLFC for hosting the game, whilst we also greatly appreciate the support of Sale FC Rugby Union Club for allowing us the use of their fantastic facilities.”
Nayef Abi Said, speaking on behalf of the Lebanese Rugby League Federation, added, “We are very much looking forward to playing Wales at the Swinton Lions home ground. The Dragons are a very tough opponent, but we are excited for the challenge. In the larger picture, this match will aid toward our preparedness and hopefully another successful World Cup campaign.”
“Underlying all, Lebanon has always held an unwavering respect towards and for the Welsh team, fans and nation as a whole, and it will prove another great honour to face them on the field.”
Admission will be by ticket only, with seats available at £15 for adults and £5 for under 16s. Meanwhile regular ground tickets are priced at just £12 for adults and £3 for under 16s, with under 5s going free. Corporate Hospitality tickets are also available at a bargain £35 for adults and £25 for under 16s. All ticket options are now on sale via the Swinton Lions website at Match Tickets & Fan Info — Swinton Lions RLFC
IAN RIGG Heywood Road, Sunday
In possibly the best game of League One Rugby of the season Keighley Cougars fought back from being behind at the break to show their championship credentials to take the victory against a Lions side who fought from the off to try to win the game.
Cougars started the game brightly and took the first attack to the Lions, but Kyle Trout lost the ball in a good position, but they did take the lead on six minutes when the Lions were penalised in their own thirty and Jack Miller converted. They could have added more points on nine minutes but a Dane Chisholm stab kick over the line ran dead and the chance went. Louis Brogan was held up for the Lions but from the next tackle the ball moved right, and Rhodri Lloyd went close and from the play the ball Dan Abram fed the supporting Jordan Case and he dived in to put the Lions in front with Dan Abram adding the conversion. Charlie Graham almost added the first cougars try on fifteen minutes, but it was the Lions that increased their lead when they launched a high kick towards the line, but Lewis Young fumbled it and Max Kirkbright collected it to score in the left corner, but Abram was unable to convert. Nathan Roebuck and Jack Hansen then each had chances but lost the ball and then the Lions lost centre Max Roberts to a head injury on the half hour never to return. Deane Meadows thought he had scored a couple minutes later but was pulled back for a forward pass but try of the game came on thirty-three minutes when George Roby took on the Cougars defence to dummy his way to the line on the left and Abram missed the conversion from wide out. Lewis Else then scored the next try when again a kick through was fumbled by Young and he trapped the ball on his foot and picked it up to score under the posts and Abram converted again. Cougars hit back to open their try account in the dying seconds of the half when Graham went in at the left corner and Miller converted from the touchline.
Whatever Rhys Lovegrove said to his team during the break certainly was still ringing in their ears when they scored next following a Lions error in goal and from the goal line drop out Toby Everett found a gap by the posts to score, and Miller converted to bring them within six points, but Abram landed a penalty goal on fifty-one minutes to give them an extra cushion. From this point onwards it was Cougars to took control with Junior Sa’u scoring in the left corner after some pressure from a penalty and Miller converted from the touchline. Three minutes later they were in again when a super passage of passing saw Kyle Trout cut inside to score and again Miller converted. The Lions then tried to hit back, and Roby was firstly held up and in the next tackle they forced a goal line drop out and from this Nick Gregson lost the ball in the Cougars twenty and the chance went. Abram then made a mistake which could have lost the Lions a score when he fielded a ball near the touchline and tried to take on the winger but was tackled into touch. Cougars then had a chance with seven minutes left but lost the ball near the line and then Lions substitute Jordan Brown was held up with five minutes left and in the dying seconds Hansen tried to kick through near the line, but a Cougars player dropped on it as the hooter sounded.
1 Dan Abram
32 Max Kirkbright
31 Max Roberts
12 Mitch Cox
5 Richard Lepori
6 Lewis Else
7 Jack Hansen
16 Louis Brogan
30 George Roby
23 Jordan Case
13 Nick Gregson
11 Rhodri Lloyd
17 Jack Spencer
Subs (all used)
14 Matty Wilkinson
20 Deane Meadows
18 Paddy Jones
24 Jordan Brown
Tries: Case (11), Kirkbright (17), Roby (33), Else (37)
Goals: Abram 3/5
30 Lewis Young
5 Mo Agoro
27 Nathan Roebuck
2 Charlie Graham
23 Junior Sa’u
20 Dane Chisholm
7 Jack Miller
17 Eddie Pettybourne
36 James Feather
11 Dan Parker
38 Kyle Trout
12 Aaron Levy
9 Kyle Kesik
Subs (all used)
8 Brenden Santi
13 Scott Murrell
14 Billy Gaylor
35 Toby Everett
Trie: Graham (40), Everett (44), Sa’u (55), Trout (58)
Goals: Miller 5/5
Penalties: 7-8 Half-time: 20-8
Referee: Michael Mannifield Attendance: 1090
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-2,6-2,10-2,14-2,20-2,20-8,20-14,22-14,22-20,22-26
As part of Swinton Lions’ ongoing support for their community partner clubs and wider contribution to develop the sport of rugby league, Director of Development Damian Ridpath recently arranged a ground-breaking player and coaching development weekend with Belfast Eagles. The Eagles are a well-run and popular community club in the heart of the city and are eager for opportunities to develop their club, as well as to promote rugby league in Northern Ireland.
Gareth Pratt, Swinton Lions Youth Player Development Coach, along with Mark Robinson, Swinton Lions Community Development Coach, flew over to Belfast and provided various coaching sessions across a fabulous weekend of rugby league for Eagles players ranging from the age of 5 right through to the seniors and masters.
Around 100 participants in total benefited from the weekend’s sessions, which included core skills development e.g. catch, carry and pass, tackle technique, correct play-the-ball technique, kicking practice, transition from offence to defence, specific player position roles, and responsibilities around the ruck area. Core skills development was also enhanced and supplemented via modified games, team building exercises, and methods for improving communication skills.
Belfast Eagles Trustees and co-founders Peter Robson and Lisa O’Connor, and all of their club’s coaches, officials and volunteers provided logistical support such as balls and training equipment. The hospitality from the Irish club was fabulous, and the bond between the two clubs grew beyond all expectations over the course of the weekend. The training facilities in Belfast were immaculate and perfect for the weekend of coaching sessions. Club volunteers also provided food and drinks for all of the people participating in the sessions and made sure everyone was well hydrated through the hot weather.
In addition to coaching the players, Gareth and Mark also took time to assist the Belfast Eagles coaching staff with their own development. They explained the session plans and methods for coaching core skills, and supervised the Eagles coaches whilst they in turn coached the players.
Also in attendance on the Sunday was the Chairman of Rugby League Ireland, Jim Reynolds. Jim enjoyed the sessions provided by the Swinton Lions coaches and thanked the Belfast Eagles club representatives on a fantastic weekend of rugby league and fun. He also complimented the Eagles on being a tremendous leader in driving rugby league development in the area.
The Lions’ Development Director, Damian Ridpath, said, “The weekend had been planned for some time and it was fantastic to see it prove such a success. We have now laid the platform within Ulster to support Rugby League activity, and will be using this experience to assist the creation of more opportunities for people to enjoy rugby league with Belfast Eagles in partnership with Swinton Lions Rugby League Club, and continue to develop an ongoing relationship between the two clubs to grow rugby league in a non-traditional area for the sport.”
On behalf of Belfast Eagles, Peter Robson and Lisa O’Connor added, “We would like to say a huge thank you to Swinton Lions for their support, not only in respect of the player, coach and club development weekend delivered by Gareth Pratt and Mark Robinson who shared some of their amazing experience and wealth of knowledge around rugby league, but also for the support and guidance shown to us over the last few years during which time we have been affiliated with them.
“Both Gareth and Mark came to the Belfast Eagles RLFC club last weekend without knowing a great deal about us and they fitted right in. They shared their huge appetite and love for rugby league with us through some really professional, engaging, interactive training sessions that left us as coaches, volunteers and players inspired and with a new thirst to learn and continue to grow as a community club so we can build something great for the future of rugby league in Northern Ireland. The proof is in the images from that weekend, they speak a thousand words!
“The biggest and most positive outcome for us over the two days is that we have seen a 10% uplift in players for our Bald Eagles Masters (over 35’s), and a 25% uplift in our Belfast Eagles RLFC Minis (U5’s – U10’s) and Youth Teams (U12’s – U16’s). This is all down to their dedication and hard work.
“We also had Jim Reynolds, Chair of Rugby League Ireland, who travelled all the way from Galway to see visit Belfast Eagles RLFC and see the session for himself. He also thought the work that both Gareth and Mark delivered was amazing.
“We are a huge family at the Belfast Eagles RLFC and that is how we have managed to grow and stay relevant in this ever-changing world in which we live in. We now consider both Gareth Pratt and Mark Robinson from Swinton Lions RLFC as part of that family now too, and we do hope to work with them both again in the not too distant future.”
The Lions will have to do it tough this coming weekend against table-topping Keighley Cougars, after incurring more injuries during the impressive 53-22 victory over Rochdale Hornets last Sunday.
Lewis Hatton is set to miss out owing to concussion protocol, whilst fellow forward Billy Brickhill will also be absent following a heavy challenge at Hornets.
Jayden Hatton, who played on the wing to cover the already absent Richard Lepori and Mike Butt, was also injured at Rochdale, and is now likely to be on the sidelines for at least a couple of weeks.
Mike Butt has still not recovered from the heavy fall he sustained in the recent match against Midlands Hurricanes, but there is some hope that Richard Lepori will return against Keighley.
To cap a frustrating week for the club, Widnes Vikings have today recalled Brad Holroyd from his loan spell, but that should provide an opportunity for fellow loanee Max Kirkbright.
Added to long-term absentee Luke Waterworth, as well as Lewis Charnock who damaged a knee at Cornwall recently, the Lions will certainly need to dig in deep against the unbeaten Cougars. The Swinton will therefore be looking for a repeat performance from their fans, who were absolutely outstanding at Rochdale.
Lions’ CEO Steve Wild said, “With the exception of Luke, we’d had a reasonably fair run as far as injuries are concerned, but all of a sudden we’ve been heavily affected. Obviously our Head Coach Allan Coleman would like to bring a player or two in, but in the current climate, and the lack of availability, it’s just not that simple. On Sunday we are now likely to have 7 players missing who would probably have been strong contenders for a starting place, but as they say one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. The spirit in the camp is fantastic, as proven by recent performances, and I’m sure the lads who step up will do us proud. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks we’ll get some bodies back. In the meantime I’m sure our supporters will understand where we’re at, and will get behind the Lions as they did so brilliantly at Cornwall and Rochdale.”
IAN RIGG Crown Oil Arena, Sunday
The Lions continue hot on the heels of the promotion contenders with a sparkling eight try performance against local rivals Hornets in a game that saw three Hornets in the sin bin, and one sent off.
Hornets took the lead on four minutes when Kieran Rush made a telling break down the middle and from the play the ball Aiden Roden crashed over from close range with Rush converting. Gavin Bennion was sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle four minutes later and the Lions made him pay heavily for this when within a minute Dan Abram finished off scoring under the posts and converting to level the scores and the second try came on twelve minutes when Jack Hansen kicked at forty-twenty and on the second tackle George Roby burrowed his way over from close range and Abram again converted. The Lions third try came just as Bennion was returning to the field and it was Roby the provider this time when he sent Billy Brickhill twisting and turning over the line to score and again this was converted. Hansen forced a goal line drop out on twenty-minutes and within one more set they were over again this time Jordan Case finishing off a move by Abram and Roby with Abram again converting. Abram kicked a penalty on the half hour for a high shot by Joe Taira in the tackle and they were flying. Zac Baker was sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle nine minutes from the break and while he was cooling his heels a lovely fast passing movement saw Max Roberts score on the left but Abram could not convert this one and in the last couple of minutes of the half Sean Penkywicz went close and lost the ball and from this the Lions quickly moved up field and Abram side stepped Lewis Sheridan to score under the posts and he also added the conversion.
Within three minutes of the start of the second half Nick Gregson sold a dummy at acting halfback to dive over in the right corner and Abram made no mistake from the touchlines. Abram converted a penalty for a high tackle on fifty-one minutes and three minutes later they were in again when Case scored his second after good work by Matty Wilkinson again with a conversion tagged on by Abram. Hornets then hit a two-minute purple patch midway through the half when firstly Sheridan took a short pass to score under the posts and then Ben O’Keefe finished off a nice move on the right, but Rush could only add one conversion.
Ben Forster was sent off for an illegal tackle on sixty-three minutes and two minutes later Fuifui MoiMoi was sent to the sin bin for dropping on Deane Meadows in the tackle and Abram converted the resulting penalty. With twelve minutes left there was a long break in play which saw Jy Hitchcox carried off on a stretcher. Hansen added a drop goal with three minutes left but it was Hornets that scored last on the hooter when Cian Tyrer scored in the corner, but Rush could not convert.
7 Lewis Sheridan
32 Rob Worrincy
3 Ben Calland
38 Ben O’Keefe
40 Jy Hitchcox
36 Kieran Rush
37 Rangi Chase
39 Pat Moran
28 Aiden Roden
10 Gavin Bennion
24 Ben Forster
11 Zac Baker
12 Paul Brearley
Subs (all used)
26 Sean Penkywicz
8 Foifoi MoiMoi
13 Joe Taira
2 Cian Tyrer
Tries: Roden (4), Sheridan (58), O’Keefe (60), Tyrer (80)
Goals: Rush ¾
Sin-bin: Bennion (8) Tip-Tackle
Baker (31) Tip-Tackle
MoiMoi (65) Dissent
Sent-off: Forster (63) Illegal Tackle
1 Dan Abram
28 Jayden Hatton
12 Mitch Cox
4 Max Roberts
31 Brad Holroyd
6 Lewis Else
7 Jack Hansen
16 Louis Brogan
30 George Roby
10 Lewis Hatton
13 Nick Gregson
23 Jordan Case
15 Billy Brickhill
Subs (all used)
14 Matty Wilkinson
17 Jack Spencer
20 Deane Meadows
18 Paddy Jones
Tries: Abram (9,39), Roby (13), Brickhill (18), Case (22,54), Roberts (32), Gregson (43),
Goals: Abram 10/11
Drop-Goal: Hansen -1
Penalties: 5-12 Half-time: 6-36
Referee: Aaron Moore
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6-0,6-6,6-12,6-18,6-24,6-26,6-30,6-36,6-42,6-44,6-50,12-50,16-50,16-52,16-53,22-53
IAN RIGG at The Memorial Ground, Penryn – Saturday
The Lions produced an eight try performance to complete the double over Cornwall in rainy Penryn supported by a large following from the Lions fans who were also enjoying a nice short break.
There was an early blow for Allan Colemans team when Louis Brogan was sent to the sinbin in only the second minute for a late hit on the kicker and from this penalty Cornwall enjoyed some early pressure on the Lions line forcing a goal line drop out but this worked in the Lions favour when Dan Abram kicked the ball from under his own posts and with the trailing wind the kick went a full eighty metres up field and they got the ball back as it deflected off Chris Chard and went into touch from the resulting play the ball it was fizzed across the line to the left and Lewis Else sent a nice short pass for Mitch Cox to go through and score a try for the fifth game in a row but Dan Abram who had not missed in twenty-eight attempts hit the post and missed with his conversion attempt. The second Lions try come on ten minutes when Else again turned provider this time sending Abram through a gap on the left and he also added the conversion to this one. Else scored the Lions next try five minutes later escaping two tackles to touchdown and Abram converted again. Rhodri Lloyd made a fifty-metre break before feeding Else but he was tackled just short but Cornwall hit back on twenty-five minutes after a nice offload by Jamie Prisk sent Aaron Jones-Bishop over on the right but Joe Purcell hit the post with his conversion attempt.
The Lions hit back again nine minutes from the break when Brad Holroyd scored his first Lions try with his very first touched as he chased a spiralling kick from Else it with the race with Liam Whitton to score under the posts and Abram converted and right on the half time hooter Cornwall substitute Paul Bolger was sent to the sinbin for a tip tackle.
The Lions scored first in the second half when Lloyd scored in the right corner and Abram judged the wind perfectly to land his one hundredth goal for the season. The next try came on fifty-nine minutes when Jordan Case went over on the right and again the conversion was added. Abram was now playing at hooker, and he was provider of the next try which sent Jack Hansen through to score under the posts and Abram converted again. The final Lions try came on seventy minutes when Max Roberts turned provider with a nice inside kick for the supporting Else who scored on the left and Abram had left the field, so Hansen converted this one. Cornwall scored the last try of the game with seven minutes left when Prisk scored under the posts and Purcell converted and in the final seconds of the game an incident was placed on report for an illegal tackle on Else.
Abram, Kirkbright, Roberts, Lloyd, Lepori, Else, Hansen, Brogan, Wilkinson, L Hatton. Cox, Gregson, Charnock. SUBS: Brickhill, Case, Holroyd, Jones
Tries: Cox (5), Abram (10), Else (15,69), Holroyd (31), Lloyd (46), Case (59), Hansen (65)
Goals: Abram 5/7, Hansen 1/1
Referee: Matthew Lynn Pens: 3-5 H-T: 4-22 Attendance: 1046
We are pleased to announce the signing of Max Kirkbright from Hull Kingston Rovers, who has joined us on loan to the end of the 2022 season.
Max is a 19 years old outside-back who hails from the Castleford area. He gained attention whilst playing at Castleford Lock Lane, from where he was welcomed into the Hull KR academy set up and made captain. He then progressed to the Rovers’ reserve team, and is now in line for further progress in 2023 having become part of the Hull KR first team squad this year.
A strong player with huge potential, Max joins us at a crucial time just ahead of Friday’s transfer deadline. For that the club would like to thank Paul Larkin and Mike Smith at Hull KR for their assistance, and also a big thank you is due to our Pridebuilder members for their crucial financial contribution to the deal.
Head Coach Allan Coleman said, “Max is a really promising wing or centre at Hull KR, where he’s in a full-time environment. He is a very talented young player, and when I spoke to him he couldn’t wait to come on board at Swinton and push for a jersey. He adds to the good competition we now have in our back-line, and at the right time of the season.”
Brad was born at Warrington and played his early career with Crosfields ARLFC and Leigh East ARLFC.
He’s a former England under 19 player at community level, and featured in the European Championship held in Serbia a couple of years ago. He has also gained experience within the St Helens Academy set up and at Leigh Centurions, before becoming a regular on the wing for Workington Town as they won promotion from League 1 in 2021.
Following that success Brad joined Widnes Vikings and has played a number of games at Championship level during the current season. He now joins Swinton on a loan deal to the end of the current season, in a deal facilitated by our fantastic PrideBuilder fund.
Lions’ Head Coach Allan Coleman said, “Firstly I’d like to thank John Kear for his support which has enabled us to take Brad on loan. Brad is a player that I have coached at England level, and he was nominated last year whilst at Workington for the young player of the year award. He therefore knows this league well which is a huge plus. Brad can play full-back or wing and those are areas where we needed cover and competition. I am very pleased to have him on board, as he’s a very talented player.”
The club would like to announce that we have parted company with forward Jose Kenga.
Jose made his debut for the Lions in February 2019 at Sheffield Eagles and went on to make 27 appearances for the club. His final outing in a Swinton shirt would transpire to be the victory over Cornwall at Heywood Road in late May.
Unfortunately his time at the Lions was punctuated by both covid and a serious injury, but he remained a popular member of the squad who through professional determination fought his way back to full fitness.
With a young family, and being based in Yorkshire, unfortunately the travelling had become increasingly difficult, and a decision was therefore taken by mutual consent to terminate the player’s contract with immediate effect.
Head Coach Allan Coleman explained, “Jose has been a model professional during his time at our club, and on top of that he is a thoroughly nice human being. It’s a pity that things haven’t quite worked out, but we respect the logistical difficulties that Jose has faced recently, and having spoken to him at length we’ve reluctantly agreed that this is probably the best way forward for both parties. But I know I speak on behalf of all the players and staff when I wish Jose and his family all the very best for the future, and trust that he won’t be lost to the sport.”