The Lions travel to Halifax in Round 11 of the Betfred Championship.
Swinton Lions travel to the MBi Shay Stadium to face Halifax in Round 11 of the Betfred Championship.
The Lions failed to capitalise on recent good performances against Leigh Centurions and Barrow Raiders, as a late Simon Brown drop goal gave fellow Championship strugglers Sheffield Eagles a valuable two points at Heywood Road on Sunday.
Swinton face the league’s top two sides next as they welcome Toulouse Olympique next week, followed by a long trip across the Atlantic Ocean to face Toronto Wolfpack the following week so will hope Sunday’s clash against Halifax will provide an opportunity to pick up their first victory of the season.
Halifax have made a strong start to the 2018 season, earning impressive wins over promotion-chasing London Broncos and Leigh Centurions to currently occupy sixth position in the Championship.
LAST TIME OUT
Swinton Lions 13-12 Halifax RLFC
Lions Head Coach John Duffy said after the game that it was one of the best victories of his career and dedicated the victory to the Lions Fans. On the other hand the Halifax coach was very disappointed with his team’s performance as they were denied try after try by some dogged Lions defence.
Oliver Davies put the home side ahead in the fourth minute when he finished off a four man move and handed off Will Sharp to score in the left corner, with Chris Atkin continuing his scoring record with a touchline conversion. Wigan loanee Liam Paisley had a good chance before Halifax should really have scored, when Murrell put up a high kick and Steve Tyrer took in and headed for the line. However as he offloaded to Ben Johnston in support, he was stopped by a shuddering tackle by Jack Murphy near the posts.
For the neutral it was a great game as both teams tried hard to unlock each others defences, but it was the Lions that had most of them causing confusion at times in the Halifax defence. Fax hooker Brandon Moore got frustrated on twenty-seven minutes and ended up in the sin bin. With the extra man advantage, the Lions turned the screw again with Murphy scoring what looked like a perfect try, but he was pulled back for obstruction in the build up. However, a couple of minutes later another great passing movement saw Shaun Robinson dive in at the right corner for the Lions second try but no conversion from this one.
Marshall must have given his charges a blasting at half time as they started a lot better than they played in the first and they started to make the Lions defence work hard. On fifty-two minutes, Moore produced a nice short pass for Mitch Cahalane to dive in under the sticks to score and Tyrer slotted the easy conversion. From the restart Murphy produced a peach of a kick off that Moore could not control and he managed to knock it dead in goal but from the drop out the Lions also made an error as Mike Butt knocked on trying to catch the kick.
Josh Wood then produced the second try for the visitors when he dummied his way over from twenty metres by the posts and Tyrer again made no mistake to put his team in the lead for the first time. The Lions were then awarded a penalty to the right on twenty metres when Moore took Atkin out off the ball but the penalty attempt sailed wide and dead, but from the goal line drop out Tyrer managed to kick the ball straight out over the side line and Atkin made no mistake with the second kick from twenty metres out straight in front.
Halifax could have scored what might have been the winning points with ten minutes left when Moore chased a kick towards the posts but the ball struck them and bounced the wrong way in to a Lions players hands instead. Three minutes later Atkin slotted over a drop goal from twenty metres to put the Lions back ahead and in the dying minutes Murrell tried also to kick a drop goal but this sailed left of the posts and Robinson brought it away to safety from his own line as the Lions held out for a deserved victory.
Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road, 25/06/17
Love Rugby League’s Josh McAllister spoke to Stuart Littler for LionsTV following Sunday’s defeat to Sheffield Eagles.
“I was disappointed with some of the boys actions today. I thought some really stood up and were counted. Some individuals let us down and let themselves down. Fair dos to fighting back and being in the game but we had given them too much of a lead. We rewound to three weeks ago when we were patchy in our performance, with a ten minute block here, a twenty minute block there. I was looking for that 80 minute performance. Opportunities don’t keep knocking on you door and you’ve got to start taking them. We’ve had another opportunity today and we’ve blown it.
“We’ve got to roll on to next week. We’ve got a despondent group, obviously we have to dust ourselves down and come up with a game plan and have a go at Halifax.
“Gavin (Bennion) stood up and he carries massively, he gets on the front foot. I thought Rhodri had a massive half and Andy Bracek did well in his first stint. They are taking carries and taking us forward. We just didn’t do it consistently enough and maybe we drop a bit when certain guys leave the field. We’ve got to be more clinical on our spread plays and where we are going. I think our decision-making was poor today, our skill level wasn’t where it needs to be. We get down that end and play one error and drop it, we get chance to build pressure and we just let teams off.
“I don’t think defeats hurt us enough sometimes. Obviously I won’t accept defeats and I want to win, so we go forward and changing things till we get that winning team.”
“I thought the game was really slow and we needed to speed it up. We needed to play fast and I was trying to manipulate things with the ref to speed it up a bit but it was just dragging on and every scrum is taking minutes and minutes and it’s just slow. Everyone’s refreshing their tanks and that’s no the product we want rugby to be.
“I think Lee Radford said something in the week and we bought into it. We’ve got to have a flowing, fast game. We need to test athletes out and put them under the pump. If you make everything slow and set, you turn it into American Football. You have one play and then another minute, then one play and another minute.
“Their is no qualms with the decision’s that came. You get some one week and then some another, that’s where we are at. When you’re down at the bottom, you don’t seem to get the run of the ball and don’t seem to get the decisions. I said to the boys, ‘we’ve got to get through this’. We’ve got ourselves in a bit of a hole and we’ve got to fight our way out of it.
“We need a response. We can’t be happy with that. I say every week I look at myself first. I need my boys to go home and have a look at themselves and do some stuff on their own away from the contact time with us and start taking things personally. I don’t think defeats hurt us enough sometimes. Obviously I won’t accept defeats and I want to win, so we go forward and changing things till we get that winning team.”
Full-back Gabe Fell is named again in the match-day squad after recovering from a minor knee injury and winger Mike Butt returns after two weeks out. Irish international Will Hope misses out with a cheek injury, whilst George Tyson and Matt Sarsfield are still unavailable for selection.
Brad Billsborough and Levy Nzoungou are line to make their Lions’ debut at the Shay.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE HALIFAX: Ben Austin, Gavin Bennion, Brad Billsborough, Andy Bracek, Mike Butt, Gabe Fell, Aaron Hall, Chris Hankinson, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Rhodri Lloyd, Mark Nicholson, Levy Nzoungou, Kyle Shelford, Conor Taylor, Andy Thornley, Luke Waterworth, Marcus Webb, Chris Worrall.
HALIFAX SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Adam Brook, Chester Butler, Brandon Douglas, Jacob Fairbank , Dan Fleming, Shane Grady, James Green, Simon Grix, Ben Johnston, Sion Jones, Ben Kaye, Will Maher, Conor McGrath, Brandon Moore, Elliot Morris, Scott Murrell, James Saltonstall, Will Sharp, Steve Tyrer.
REFEREE: M. Rossleigh TOUCH JUDGES: C. Smith, D. Sharpe