BATLEY BULLDOGS V SWINTON LIONS – SHIELD PREVIEW
28 September 2018
Swinton Lions travel to Batley Bulldogs in the final round of the Betfred Championship Shield.
Swinton Lions travel to West Yorkshire to face Batley Bulldogs in what will be a crucial afternoon for the club’s future.
Following the Lions’ 34-18 defeat at home to Featherstone Rovers and Rochdale Hornets victory over Dewsbury Rams, both teams now sit on 10 points in the Championship Shield table. This brings the race to stay in the league down to the final weekend, with the only difference between the two sides being Swinton’s 62 points advantage over their local rivals.
A strong victory for the Lions will secure Championship rugby league for 2019. Anything other than a victory could jeopardise Swinton’s position dependant on the Hornets’ result against Sheffield Eagles and could result in the Lions facing a playoff game against the loser of the League 1 playoff semi-final to maintain their position in the second tier.
Batley have finished the season strongly and delivered an impressive performance away Leigh Centurions last weekend as tries from Scott, Campbell and Jouffret secured the Bulldogs sixth straight win in the Championship Shield.
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD TABLE
LAST TIME OUT
Batley Bulldogs 40-18 Swinton Lions
The Lions finished their normal season with defeat on the slope at Batley with the home side winning their first game in ten outings, as Staurt Littler had to reshuffle his team owing to last minute injury problems.
Bulldogs took the lead on eleven minutes when Brad Day scored on the left after some penalty pressure and Dave Scott added the conversion, but the Lions came back three minutes later when Brad Billsborough converted a penalty goal.
The home side struck again scoring a second just after the midway point of the half when Jason Crookes went over on the left and again Scott added a second conversion. The Lions were finding hard and frustrating going up the slope in the first half and lost a few balls in good positions.
Batley then ran it two further tries in the final nine minutes of the half with James Harrison and Wayne Reittie both going over and Scott converting both to give them a convincing lead.
Swinton’s defence was breached within a minute of the restart when Harrison was allowed to gallop forty metres up hill to score under the posts and again the conversion was on target. The Lions then had a couple of chances going down the hill with Andy Thornley coming the closest but it was the Bulldogs who went further ahead when Scott raced through a huge gap to score under the posts to which he added the conversion.
Former Lion James Brown was placed on report by Referee Matt Rossleigh after fifty eight minutes and then Johnny Campbell added the next Bulldogs try in the left corner. Scott missed this conversion but in the build-up Jack Hansen claimed he had been bitten in a tackle and this also went on report.
The Lions hit back on sixty seven minutes when Josh Barlow broke through to score his second try in two weeks and Jack Hansen added the conversion.
Five minutes after this Rob Fairclough and Adam Gledhill were sent to the sin bin for fighting as tempers boiled not for the first time. Alex Rowe was then sent to the sin bin five minutes from time for an off the ball tackle on Chris Worrall and from the resulting penalty the Lions grabbed their second try when Jack Hansen kicked toward the posts and Aaron Hall raced onto the kick to score his first try for the club with Jack Hansen adding the conversion.
There was more to come when Hall broke through in the final minute to send Mike Butt over for the third try but Hansen could not convert this one as the hooter sounded.
Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV’s Colin James after his side’s defeat to Featherstone Rovers at Heywood Road.
“It was a massive improvement on last week, we had let everyone down. We had some honest words this week in training about the values and standards of this club, how we want to move it forward and where we need to be on the field. I think everyone has understood that.
“We got a lot of buy in today, especially in the first half but it just fell away in the second. They built pressure a lot better than we did. They rolled the ball in and got repeat sets and we just let them off cheaply.
“They are a good team, whether they have 15 or 17, they beat Leigh with 14 last week and just missed out on the playoffs. It’s a tough league and there is some good teams about. If you don’t nail your stuff, generally you get burned and I think that happened to us.
“The result at Rochdale puts it all on next week. We are sixty-two points better but I don’t want it to go to points difference, we have to win. We could stay up without winning. Rochdale can’t without us getting battered but we need to win the game. We need to nail our own stuff and control our own destiny. I don’t want to be looking at other results and adding it all up on the sideline with a calculator.
“It’s going to be tough, Batley have gone to Leigh and won. We’ve got some bruised and battered bodies but we’re going to have to strap them up, dose up on painkillers and manage our squad. It’s that time of year.”
Will Hope returns to the Lions squad after recovering from a wrist injury as Tommy Gallagher is also named in the squad for the third time this season.
George Tyson and Andy Bracek are both unavailable for selection and Paul Wood also sits out again due to his rib injury.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE BULLDOGS: Ben Austin, Brad Billsborough, Mike Butt, Rob Fairclough, Gabe Fell, Josh Ganson, Ryan Gray, Aaron Hall, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Paddy Jones, Rhodri Lloyd, Craig Mullen, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, Luke Waterworth, Josh Woods, Paul Wood, Chris Worrall.
BULLDOGS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: TBC
REFEREE: J. Mcmullen TOUCH JUDGES: C. Smith, M. Mannifield
KICK-OFF: Sunday 30th September, 15:00 BST
VENUE: The Fox’s Biscuit Stadium, Heritage Rd, Batley, West Yorkshire, WF17 7NZ
TICKETS: Adults – £17, Concessions – £12, Kids (5-17 years) – £3, Kids Under 5 – Free
Away from the field, why not took your place at the End of Season Player’s Presentation Evening and vote for your Try of the Season here.