The Lions travel to the LD Nutrition stadium in Round 6 of the Betfred Championship.
Swinton Lions travel to West Yorkshire to face the high-flying Featherstone Rovers, coached by former head coach John Duffy.
Duffy was in charge of Swinton for 18 months, most successfully guiding the club from League 1 to the Championship via the playoffs in 2015. The former Leigh man left the Lions in July 2017, immediately taking the vacant Head Coach position at Featherstone vacated by Jon Sharp. He was replaced by his assistant Stuart Littler at the Lions.
Featherstone Rovers have made an impressive start to the 2018 season, taking eight points from a possible ten in the first five rounds of the Championship to currently sit third in the table, level on points with London and Toulouse. Victories against Halifax, Toulouse, Sheffield and an impressive win over struggling Leigh Centurions have stated the Rovers intent to be in the mix for promotion to the Super League come the end of the season.
Stuart Littler’s team are still winless in the Championship, following a heavy 52-12 defeat to promotion-chasing Toronto Wolfpack last weekend. With home games against London Broncos and Leigh Centurions to come, the Lions will be keen to try and get some points on the board soon during this highly competitive league.
The Rovers, bolstered by the return of Andy Bostock and Chris Ulugia from injury, cruised into an 18-point interval lead.
Swinton opened the scoring early on but had no answer for the home side, who eased to victory on Wednesday evening, adding a further trio of tries after the break. Chris Atkin gave the visiting Lions an early 2-0 lead, kicking a penalty goal during the opening exchanges.
But the away side’s lead was short lived as Josh Hardcastle touched down in the corner to make it 4-2. A Kyran Johnson penalty goal extend Featherstone’s advantage and further first-half scores came courtesy of Matty Wildie, Anthony Thackeray and John Davies.
The pick of them saw back-rower Davies, who appeared from the interchange bench, pounce on a sublime Keal Carlile kick-through to touch down. Thackeray bagged his second of the evening on 49 minutes, before leading try-scorer Hardcastle dived on a grubber to take his tally to 14 for the season.
Davies took over the goal-kicking duties and converted Hardcastle’s effort, superbly, from out wide. He was called to the kicking tee again – three minutes from time – when Jason Walton powered past a trio of tired Lions to cross beneath the posts. Davies delivered, taking his tally to two from two as Featherstone rubbed salt into the Lions’ wounds.
“I’m still big mates with John Duffy and spoke to him this week. They secured a great win against Leigh Centurions. It’s going to be a tough challenge and the week after we play London Broncos.
“We have to take each week as it comes. I’ve told the boys that we’ve got a tough month. We knew at the start of the year it was going to be a tough but that’s the league we are in. We want to be in this league and compete. It’s an opportunity for our guys to stand up against the better teams in the league and show what they are about. We are only going to do that by putting in an 80 minute performance and not twenty minutes here and there.
“We probably fixed up the penalty count this week against Toronto. The errors were less than last week but we were getting people caught on the floor. Errors came in after 25 minutes and then one thing leads to another and that’s where we are at the moment. We need to try and flip that and turn the negative actions into positive ones and move forward.
“I’ve got a dejected group but we have to remain upbeat. We’re hear for a season-long fight. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. However, we’ve got to start turning things around soon and get that 80 minute performance that everyone is striving for but actions speak louder than words.”
Stuart Littler was speaking to LionsTV following Sunday’s defeat to Toronto Wolfpack.
Centre Chris Hankinson returns to the Lions squad after missing out following a late fitness test last week. Scrum-half Rob Fairclough is in line to make his debut following an initial month’s loan move from St Helens. Oliver Partington, Jack Higginson and Josh Woods join on dual-registration from Wigan Warriors. Elliot Caine and Mark Nicholson miss out from last week’s squad.
John Davies and Misi Taulapapa are set to return for the home side after being included in Featherstone’s 19-man Squad. The pair have overcome minor injury setbacks to take the place of Anthony Thackeray, who has been ruled out with an elbow injury and Jack Ormondroyd who returns to parent club Leeds Rhinos.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE ROVERS: Ben Austin, Josh Barlow, Gavin Bennion, Andy Bracek, Mike Butt, Gabe Fell, Rob Fairclough, Chris Hankinson, Jack Hansen, Hayden Hansen, Jack Higginson, Rhodri Lloyd, Oliver Partington, Matt Sarsfield, Kyle Shelford, Connor Taylor, George Tyson, Luke Waterworth, Josh Woods.
ROVERS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Ian Hardman, Shaun Robinson, Misi Taulapapa, Luke Briscoe, Martyn Ridyard, Keal Carlile, Connor Farrell, John Davies, James Lockwood, Matty Wildie, Gareth Hock, Frankie Mariano, Luke Cooper, Tom Holmes, Josh Hardcastle, Bradley Knowles, Sam Brooks, Mitch Clark, Mikolaj Oledzki.
REFEREE: T. Grant TOUCH JUDGES: A. Tolley, G. Melling
VENUE: LD Nutrition Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone, West Yorkshire, WF7 5EN