Swinton Lions face Dewsbury Rams in the first round of the Betfred Championship Shield.
Swinton Lions travel to West Yorkshire to face Dewsbury Rams in the first round of the Championship Shield.
It’s make or break for the Lions who have seven games to save their season and consolidate their Championship status for 2019. Swinton have won three games in the regular season and will have to at least match that to have any hope of survival.
Stuart Littler’s men sit five points behind Barrow Raiders and Dewsbury Rams and victory at the Tetley’s Stadium on Sunday will help narrow the gap whilst also ensuring one of their relegation rivals don’t pick up points.
Ned Kelly’s Dewsbury had a strong finish to the regular season, losing just twice in July to Toulouse and Sheffield after victories over Barrow and local rivals Batley helped push them away from the bottom two.
The Rams will hope for a repeat of their 20-0 victory over the Lions in February as tries from Spicer, Brown and Hallett sent Swinton home empty-handed.
LAST TIME OUT
BETFRED CHAMPIONSHIP (HOME)
Swinton Lions 29-28 Dewsbury Rams
Swinton completed an impressive victory in an epic game which could have gone either way or even ended in a draw but the home side just held on.
The Rams got off to a flyer when Arron Brown made the most of a goal line drop out to score on the left, but Paul Sykes conversion struck the posts and bounced out. The Rams continued their bright start six minutes later as they were in again when Michael Knowles sent Lucas Walshaw over and Sykes did convert this one.
Chances came for Chris Hankinson and George Tyson who both went close before Tyson latched onto a Jack Hansen pass down the left to race away and put the Lions on the board with Hankinson converting. However, three minutes Dewsbury’s Dale Morton broke away down the left to dive in at the left corner and Sykes converted this one too.
Robbie Ward then had a good chance for the Rams but lost the ball short of the line but from the scrum the Lions moved down field and added their second try, Gabe Fell going over on the left but the conversion was missed.
Both sides had chances at the end of the half but could not convert them and this continued early into the second as the Rams made a complete hash of the kick off giving the Lions the ball back but they knocked on too.
No doubt pumped up from a half-time team talk, Josh Ganson scored the Lions third try nine minutes into the second half going over from short range and the conversion was landed, but virtually from the restart they were in again when Hankinson chipped ahead for Rhodri Lloyd to score and once again the conversion was landed.
Swinton imposed themselves heavily on to Dewsbury early in the second half and the try of the match came when Tyson broke, drew the defence and chipped the ball over them to win the race to regather and score a converted try on the left. The Lions were on a roll and Hankinson stretched the lead further to thirteen points, dropping a goal on the last tackle.
Dewsbury still threatened and came back again when a huge overlap on the right allowed Gareth Potts to score but no conversion from this one, then in a moment of madness Hankinson was sent off for a dangerous tackle on James Glover.
The Rams now playing with the extra man started throwing everything at the Lions and Igbinedion scored in the left corner but again no conversion as the visitors narrowed the lead to five points. With nine minutes left, Morton grabbed his second in the corner but again no conversion followed and in the dying minutes the Rams had two good chances to land the one pointer but decided to go for the four but the Lions defence performed heroics to stop them and gain the valuable victory.
Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road, 01/07/18
Lions captain Andy Bracek spoke to LionsTV’s Josh McAllister ahead of the Lions’ trip to Dewsbury Rams on Sunday.
“We can’t wait for this Sunday. A good one to start on, it’s a tough place to go Dewsbury. It’s the same mould as Batley and places like that. They’re a good, tough side and we’ve beat them previously and I believe we can beat them again.
“I really don’t believe we’ve played to our full potential in 90% of games and if we did we’d give anyone in this league a game. A few weeks ago we played London away and did well, but it’s about the 80 minutes performance and sticking to the game plan that we’ve been given and it’ll come together and we’re looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be the toughest seven weeks of our lives. We need to back-to-back and again, and I think we need at least five out of eight wins to guarantee our survival in the Championship. I think we can do it and so does everyone, and the fans also believe as well.
“The fans have been there through thick and thin, and I’ll always thanks them for that. Our fans have showed up when it’s going good and when it’s bad. For that, we are grateful.”
Ex-England international Paul Wood is set to make a second debut after a deadline day move to the club. His last appearance for the Lions was back in 2014 against Featherstone Rovers. Josh Woods joins on dual-registration from Wigan Warriors.
Will Hope is still recovering from an injury to his shoulder and Craig Mullen also misses out (knee).
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE RAMS: Ben Austin, Josh Barlow, Andy Bracek, Joe Brown, Mike Butt, Rob Fairclough, Gabe Fell, Josh Ganson, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Paddy Jones, Rhodri Lloyd, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Luke Waterworth, Josh Woods, Paul Wood, Chris Worrall.
RAMS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Aaron Brown, Brad Delaney, Toby Everett, James Glover, Josh Guzdek, Daniel Igbinedion, Michael Knowles, Gareth Moore, Dale Morton, Gareth Potts, Tobias Richardson, Adam Ryder, Jode Sheriffe, Dom Speakman, Paul Sykes, Jack Teanby, Kyle Trout, Lucas Walshaw, Robbie Ward.
REFEREE: T. Grant TOUCH JUDGES: D. Ward, E. Mccarthy