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04 March 2019

The Lions are proving that they can compete with the best, with another close loss on the bounce, this time to Halifax who finished in the top four last season.

Swinton Lions came close to claiming their first points of the season, but a heart-breaking second-half comeback saw Halifax take the victory 18-16.

Another eighty minute performance from the Lions but yet again nothing to show for their efforts on the pitch and they should have won the game but for two game changing moments.

Stuart Littler had selection headaches right from the off in this game with Captain Rhodri Lloyd ruled out through injury and then Billy Brickhill and Paddy Jones had to drop out of the squad with illness and injury and within four minutes of the start Jose Kenga had to leave the field with a head knock and he was unable to return. Liam Forsyth also had to leave the field with injury midway through the half and he was replaced by Daley Williams.

Halifax started strongly in the driving rain and Ben Johnson sent a kick to the left corner for Shaun Robinson to chase but the ball raced dead on the wet surface and the Steve Tyrer went for the left corner but he was gang tackled into touch just metres short.

The Lions took the lead on twenty-three minutes when Harry Smith sent a measured kick to the right corner and Matty Ashton won the race past Robinson to score in front of the large noisy following from the Lions fans but Smith was just off target with the conversion from the touchline. It got even better for the Lions eight minutes later when they forced Halifax into a goal line drop out and from the ball return pressure it was same again; another measured kick to the corner from Smith and Ashton again managed to get the ball down just inches from it running dead in goal and this time Smith did add the conversion. Halifax finished the half on the Lions line forcing a goal line drop out but the defence held out until the half time hooter.

Richard Marshall had obviously given his team an ear bashing at the break and they had a chance within seven minutes of the restart but lost control of the ball near the line. They did get over two minutes later when James Saltonstall scored on the right and Tyrer added the conversion.

The Lions came back again on the hour when Rob Fairclough sent a nice measured kick towards the left corner and Captain for the day Mike Butt won the race against Will Sharp to score and Smith added the conversion points again from the touchline. Butt then had another chance three minutes later but the defence held out.

It looked like Halifax would score again on sixty-nine minutes when Saltonstall raced for the right corner but he was knocked into touch as he tried to score and then a handling error at the scrum presented Halifax with a soft try some erratic passing finally got Tyrer over for a try on the left and he also add the conversion to his own try.

The killer blow came with seven minutes left when Halifax got a penalty thirty metres off the Lions line when a tackled Halifax player got up to play the ball and moved off the mark to stride over a Lions player who was rolling away but the penalty was given and from this pressure Saltonstall went over on the right for his second try of the match and Tyrer again made no mistake to put his side ahead for the first time in the match.

The second incident came three minutes from time when Jack Hansen kicked the ball through the Halifax defence and chased it and re-gathered before drawing the Halifax fullback and putting in another kick for Ashton who was racing for the corner but the chasing defence seemed to knock him off the ball and he came within inches of getting a hand on the ball despite being obstructed on his run and nothing came from. That was the final chance for the Lions as once again they came within minutes of a potential first win.

Coach Stuart Littler praised his side in the media room after the match: “They showed great spirit as a unit and I believe we are very close to that first win, We move on to next week now for another huge game,” he said.

Ian Rigg reporting from The Shay.

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Halifax: Laulu-Togagae, Sharp, Tyrer, Saltonstall, Robinson, Murrell, Johnston, Fleming, Kaye, Fairbank, Larroyer, Grady, Grix.

Subs: Kavanagh, Morris, Moore, Cooper.

Tries: Saltonstall (49,73), Tyrer (70)

Goals: Tyrer 3/3

Lions: Hansen, Butt, Forsyth, Hankinson, Ashton, Smith, Fairclough, Bennion, Waterworth, Hatton, Shelford, Halton, Kenga.

Subs: Ganson, Hall, A.Jones, Williams.

Tries: Ashton (23,31), Butt (60)

Goals: Smith 2/3

Referee: Liam Staveley

Attendance: 1584

H-T: 0-10 FT: 18-16

Photo credits: Pete Green


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