Swinton Lions travel to Mount Pleasant to face Batley Bulldogs in the final round of the regular Betfred Championship season.
Swinton Lions are on the road again for their final regular season fixture away at Batley Bulldogs in the Betfred Championship.
Stuart Littler’s men will take confidence from an impressive second half performance against Leigh Centurions last weekend, despite suffering a 50-24 defeat in their penultimate game ahead of the Championship Shield split.
The Lions, still second from bottom but level on eight points with Rochdale, are in desperate need of a victory at Mount Pleasant to have any hope of chasing down Barrow Raiders and Dewsbury Rams, who both sit five points ahead of them outside of the relegation zone.
Swinton make take some comfort in the fact that Batley are currently without a win in nine league games, last taking victory at home against Rochdale Hornets on 20th May. The Bulldogs suffered a narrow 23-20 defeat against fierce local rivals Dewsbury Rams in Round 22 and will be keen to pick up two points to further distance themselves away from the relegation dogfight below them.
The club further bolstered its ranks on Deadline Day ahead of the Championship Shield fixtures with the signings of young utility back Ryan Gray and former England international and Warrington second-rower Paul Wood.
LAST TIME OUT
Swinton Lions 28-48 Batley Bulldogs
It was points aplenty at the AJ Bell Stadium, as Batley came out on top at Swinton’s temporary new home.
The Lions repeatedly gave themselves too much to do, as a couple of lethal periods from the Bulldogs, where they scored try after try put too much daylight between the sides.
Batley’s form was also assisted along by Swinton’s unfortunate habit of conceding penalties and picking up cards from the referee.
It was the Lions however who made the early pace, Josh Woods’ pass was met on a lovely angle by Gabe Fell who stepped out of a couple of tacklers to score.
The Yorkshiremen slowly but surely took control of the opening half, Pat Walker drizzled a kick against the upright that Matt Sarsfield needed to clear up, Mike Butt and Fell left a huge bomb to each other before the half backs combined to send over Lewis Galbraith.
Butt thwarted a lovely kick to the corner from Walker, Michael Ward knocked on twisting over in the act of scoring before Wayne Reittie accepted a gift from the Lions, scooping up a loose pass and scooting sixty yards to the line.
Reittie and Batley didn’t look back after that, Ward was wonderfully denied by Jack Hansen’s tackle but Adam Gledhill somewhat opportunistically went over from dummy half on the next.
That was followed up by another Galbraith score, Batley’s kicking was keeping Swinton in it, which is why the centre narrowed the angle for Walker.
The Bulldogs were then thrown a bone by Swinton, in the form of a fantastic dummy by Jack Hansen as he raced in from thirty metres. Hankinson goaled this one and his own try minutes later as the teams closed to within a score at the interval.
Ian Rigg reporting from AJ Bell Stadium, 18/02/2018
Head Coach Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV follow the Lions’ defeat against Leigh Centurions.
“We talked at half-time about putting them on a pedestal and showing them what we were about and to enjoy ourselves and express ourselves and I think we did that in the second half. The first half our completion was down to 30-40% and you can’t keep giving a quality side the ball. Especially coming out of yardage and dropping the ball, play one stuff.
“We spoke at half-time about who we are and showing that we are here for a fight. We’ve got eight weeks coming up and eight cup finals. I said to the lads that obviously we want to take them on a journey but we need to turn up.
“We let ourselves down in that first half a little bit and obviously we showed what were about in the second, we just need to click things together for 80 mins, not 40 minutes here and there. We’ll take a bit of confidence from that as Leigh are a good side and at times we took them to pieces in the second half, so we showed what we can do when we have confidence in ourselves and back ourselves and the boys did a good job in the second half.
“Batley is a must-win game, they all are now. We’ve got to beat the teams around us at the bottom end, obviously teams are picking up and will pick up more points as they are playing the teams around them again. We have to worry abut ourselves and get a bit of consistency coming into the Championship Shield.”
Ben Austin returns to the Lions squad for the first time in a month after recovering from a knee injury suffered against London Broncos. Liam Paisley arrives on dual-registration from Wigan Warriors.
Will Hope is unavailable to face Batley after injuring his shoulder and Craig Mullen also misses out with a bad knee. Paddy Jones is also unavailable for selection.
New signings Paul Wood and Ryan Gray will be available for selection for the Lions’ Championship Shield fixtures.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE BULLDOGS: Josh Barlow, Brad Billsborough, Andy Bracek, Joe Brown, Mike Butt, Macauley Davies, Rob Fairclough, Gabe Fell, Josh Ganson, Aaron Hall, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Rhodri Lloyd, Liam Paisley, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Chris Worrall.
BULLDOGS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Dave Scott, Wayne Reittie, Sam Smeaton, Jason Crookes, Pat Walker, Dom Brambani, Adam Gledhill, Alistair Leak, Dane Manning, Brad Day, James Davey, James Harrison, Michael Ward, Alex Bretherton, Alex Rowe, James Brown, Jonathan Campbell, Tom Holland, Louis Jouffret.
REFEREE: M. Rossleigh TOUCH JUDGES: C. Worsley, E. Mccarthy
KICK-OFF: Sunday 29th July, 15:00 BST
VENUE: The Fox’s Biscuit Stadium, Heritage Rd, Batley, West Yorkshire WF17 7NZ