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05 August 2019

Swinton Lions lost out by just a drop-goal at Leigh Sports Village in the Betfred Championship.

Stuart Littler’s side came agonisingly close to the victory at Leigh Sports Village, with just a Ryan Brierley drop-goal claiming the win for the home side.

Another fantastic performance from the Lions but in the end a drop goal from Brierley took the points for John Duffy’s side despite being second best for most of the match.

Andy Thornley put the Centurions ahead just five minutes into the game when he cut in from the left side to score by the posts and Brierley converted. The Lions hit back to stun the large crowd when Jack Hansen fielded a kick inside his own ten metre area and sold a few dummies to break the defence and with Matty Ashton in support, he handed the ball onto the speedster and he raced sixty metres to score under the posts in front of the Leigh fans. Hansen added the conversion to level the scores.

From the restart the Lions pressured the Leigh line again and some great build up play by Jake Shorrocks, Rob Fairclough and Chris Hankinson got Mike Butt away to score in the left corner only to be brought back for a forward pass.

Liam Forsyth should have scored for Leigh on seventeen minutes but he lost control of the ball diving for the corner and from the twenty metre restart the Lions broke clear again and once again Ashton raced half the length of the field to again score under the posts and Hansen again added the simple conversion. Shorrocks then almost scored when he broke away and was grounded just metres from the line by Brierley and the Leigh man held on for too long and he was sent to the sin bin and Hansen converted the resulting penalty.

It was getting better and better for the Lions as they were forcing Leigh into handling errors and missed tackles and Samy Kibula came on twenty-five minutes into the game and he almost scored with his first touch when he too broke away and was grounded about a metre from the line but the ball rolled lose in the tackle. Ashton then completed a sixteen minute hat trick when Billy Brickhill scooped up a loose Leigh pass and he sent the winger on another long range run to score under the posts and again Hansen made no mistake with the kick.

Leigh got their second try seven minutes from the break when they won a scrum against the head and Forsyth scored in the right corner but Brierley could not convert. Four minutes later the Lions hit back when Hankinson fed the ball to Mike Butt and he breezed past Forsyth to score in the left corner and claim his two hundred and fiftieth point for the Lions but Hansen was just off target with the conversion. Leigh hit back straight away when the Lions made a handling error at the restart and this saw Matt Costello score in the corner but again no conversion from Brierley and the Lions held a ten point advantage at the break.

Leigh came out in the second half with John Duffys team talk ringing in their ears and they bombed another try just a few minutes in when Greg McNally sent a pass to Costello but it sailed over his head into touch but then the Lions had another handling error just near half way and Wigan Bound Mitch Clark raced thirty metres to score under the posts and Brierley converted to bring them within four points. Jake Emmitt and Brierley both bombed try scoring chances before a big scuffle started on sixty-five minutes and all twenty-six players were involved and this saw Kibula, Rhodri Lloyd and Joe Cator all sent to the sin bin and the incident placed on report and the penalty went to Leigh.

The Lions eleven men held out well for three minutes before Junior Sau scored on the right from an overlap and again the conversion was missed and the scores were level.

Leigh finally took the lead with thirteen minutes left when Cory Paterson forced his way over on the left and this time Martyn Ridyard added the conversion but the Lions tried to hit back again but a final pass to Frankie Halton was judged forward and this put the home side back on the attack and with just two minutes left Brierley kicked a drop goal to give his side a seven point lead but the Lions heads did not go down and with seconds left Hansen sent a kick towards the right corner and Ashton outpaced Costello to gather the ball and score in the corner as the hooter sounded and Hansen added a super conversion from the touchline to complete a fantastic performance from the Lions despite the one point loss.

Ian Rigg reporting from Leigh Sports Village.


Centurions: McNally, Costello, I.Thornley, Sau, Forsyth, Ridyard, Brierley, Douglas, Hood, Brooks, Laithwaite, A.Thornley, Paterson. SUBS: Eaves, Cator, Clark, Emmitt.

Tries: A.Thornley (5′), Forsyth (33′), Costello (39′), Clark (46′), Sau (58′), Paterson (67′).

Goals: Brierley 2/5, Ridyard 1/1

Drop Goal: Brierley -1

Lions: Hansen, Butt, Hankinson, Mullen, Ashton, Shorrocks, Fairclough, P.Jones, Waterworth, Hatton. Lloyd, Halton, Gregson. SUBS: Brickhill, Kenga, Kibula, Morris.

Tries: Ashton (13′,18′,29′,80′), Butt (37′)

Goals: Hansen 5/6

Referee: Gareth Hewer

Attendance: 3155

HT: 14-24 FT: 31-30

Photo credits: Emily Parker & Pete Green


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