Swinton Lions conceded a last-minute try to hand Rochdale Hornets a vital victory in the Betfred Championship.
Rochdale Hornets 28-26 Swinton Lions
An opportunistic try from Warrington Wolves dual-registration player Morgan Smith snatched a dramatic win for Hornets with just one minute left on the clock and condemned the Lions to yet another defeat in a game that was a must win in many people’s eyes.
The Lions started brightly and opened the scoring in only the second minute when George Tyson went through a huge gap to score on the left and Chris Hankinson added the conversion.
Three minutes later Jack Hansen kicked a forty-twenty and from the pressure on the line the ball moved swiftly left for Joe Brown to score in the corner and Hankinson was again on target.
In response to going behind Seta Tala hit back for Hornets on twelve minutes after a Lions handling error and Smith landed the conversion, but then the Lions increased the lead again with a Hankinson penalty after Jack Hansen was hit late in the tackle.
Hankinson was again on target when he landed another penalty at the midway point of the half after Kyle Shelford was obstructed, but the Hornets hit back again when Richard Lepori scored in the corner after a good passing movement. Smith missing his shot from the touchline.
The cool and calm Hankinson then added yet another penalty goal after Joe Taira’s late hit on Shelford and it was the villain himself who put Hornets back in it just before the break with a try by the posts that Smith converted.
It was the Lions who scored first again in the second half when Hankinson kicked yet another penalty in the forty-seventh minute and the Aaron Hall was twice held up over the line in the same set of six.
Hankinson then missed a penalty wide out on the right on sixty-four minutes but from the twenty metre drop out there was good pressure on the Hornets line and Jack Hansen put a kick to the line and Paddy Jones was fastest to react and score by the posts with Hankinson converting yet again.
Rochdale then started to turn the screw ten points down with five minutes to go and Warrington’s George King forced his way over by the posts with Smith converting to bring them within four of the Lions.
Then came the winning try with one minute left and the Lions on the attack and on the last tackle, Hankinson was trying to kick the ball into touch to wind down the clock but the ball hit the oncoming Smith and it cannoned towards the try line with the Hornets man chasing it. Smith beat Gabriel Fell in a foot race with Gabriel Fell and the ball bounced up nicely for Smith to gather and score by the posts and also tag on the goal points with just seconds left to give the home side an unexpected victory.
Ian Rigg reporting from the Crown Oil Arena
Lions: 1. Gabe Fell, 5. Mike Butt, 11. Rhodri Lloyd, 4. George Tyson, 32. Joe Brown, 3. Chris Hankinson, 7. Jack Hansen, 8. Andy Bracek, 34. Josh Ganson, 10. Andy Thornley, 17. Kyle Shelford, 25. Will Hope, 14. Hayden Hansen.
Subs (all used): 24. Aaron Hall, 13. Josh Barlow, 9. Luke Waterworth, NN. Paddy Jones.
Tries: Tyson (2), Brown (8), Jones (67) Goals: Hankinson 7/8
Hornets: 2. Declan Kay, 21. Richard Lepori, 25. Seta Tala, 12. Toby Adamson, 5. Rob Massam, NN. Morgan Smith, 7. Danny Yates, 15. Lewis Hatton, 9. Ben Moores, 10. Gavin Bennion, 26. George King, 19. Lee Mitchell, 13. Luke Adamson.
Subs (all used): 24. Dec Gregory, 8. Joe Taira, 16. Pat Moran, 4. Jordan Syme.
Tries: Tala (12), Lepori (22), Taira (35), King (75), Smith (79) Goals: Smith 4/5
Referee: Greg Dolan H-T: 16-18 Pens: 8-11 Att: 676