Swinton Lions travel to Leigh Centurions in the fourth round of the Betfred Championship Shield.
Swinton Lions are on the road to face Leigh Centurions as the club continues to fight to maintain its position in the Betfred Championship.
The Lions gave themselves a massive boost in the battle for survival by beating fellow strugglers Rochdale Hornets 23-18 last weekend. The much-needed victory pushed Swinton to within five points of Barrow Raiders and six points of Sheffield Eagles, with 8 points left to play for.
The Centurions welcome Stuart Littler’s side to Leigh Sports Village after suffering defeat last weekend away at Featherstone Rovers. Sunday’s loss came off the back of five straight victories for the club despite recent financial troubles overhanging the club, revealed by Leigh owner Derek Beaumont.
Regardless of the result this weekend, Swinton alongside most clubs await the decision of the RFL regarding next year’s league structures, which could directly affect the club especially if they finish second bottom of the table as suggestions of the league being extended to 14 teams for the 2019 season continue to linger.
A very strong second half performance from the Lions gave the Centurions something to think about as Stuart Littler’s side continue to battle for points ahead of the Championship Shield.
The short kick off from Rob Fairclough almost caught them out right from the start as Mike Butt took the ball and made good ground, but was tackled ten metres short and the tackles ran out as the Centurions defence got their act together.
When the home side did get into gear they ran in five tries in an eighteen minute period with Harrison Hansen opening the scoring and these were quickly followed by tries from Matty Dawson (2), Bodene Thompson and Craig Hall with Ben Reynolds converting four of them as the Centurions took a twenty-eight point lead.
The Lions hit back just after the half our when a Centurions ball handling error in their own ten metre area presented the Lions with a great opportunity and they grabbed it. The fearless Josh Barlow took three defenders over the try line by the posts to score his first try of the season right in front of the large home following, with Jack Hansen adding the conversion.
Former Lion Liam Hood scored the next Leigh try just before the break when he stole the ball from Rhodri Lloyd to race away and score with Reynolds adding the conversion to that one too.
After a poor first half the Lions started the better again in the second and Lloyd went close but Leigh were penalised near their own line and from the play the ball it went left and Fairclough found a gap to race through and score the Lions second try. Jack Hansen safely converting again.
Four minutes later they were over again when Lloyd found himself all on his own down the right and with no support took on three Centurions defenders to score on his birthday and this time Fairclough added the conversion points from near the touchline.
The home side hit back on fifty-two minutes when Jack Owens set up a second for Hall to score in the left corner and Reynolds again converted. The Lions almost hit back straight away when Macauley Davies escaped a few tackles down the right and came within five metres of scoring a spectacular try.
Peter Matautia added the next Leigh try with fourteen minutes left when Hall and Drew Hutchison combined and again Reynolds converted. However, the Lions that bounced back again as Kyle Shelford chased a kick to score on the left and Jack Hansen again added the conversion, but eight minutes from time Hutchison added the final try of the game for Leigh but no conversion this time.
Ian Rigg reporting from Leigh Sports Village, 22/07/18
Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV’s Josh McAllister after his side’s victory over Rochdale Hornets at Heywood Road.
“It feels awesome, the second half was draining but the boys hung on. I don’t think we played the best in the second half but we had a great start in the first, completing high percentages and kicking well. They must have got a bit of rocket at half-time, they came and showed a little more desire and hunger than us. They probably marched us down the field and on to the back foot.
“We showed a bit of resilience this week and obviously dug in for each other and have come out of the other side with a massive result for us. We don’t know what is going to happen with this structure at the moment but obviously we are trying to put ourselves in the best position if the proposal does come off. Today doesn’t define that, Rochdale and Swinton both have four games to go and there is some winnable games in there for both teams.
“We’ve got to keep working hard when we come in. What we did show today was a togetherness and desire. I thought we saw hunger and the trademarks of what we are looking for today. Full respect to the boys for an amazing first half and the desire and hunger in the second half to grind it out when the game got tough.
“We laid it on the line and they toughed it through. People don’t see sometimes that the boys do care and do hurt as well like everyone else. It’s just nice to get on the right side of a close one for once.
“I told the lads not to get complacent as it’s not done. We’ve got to keep coming in and working hard. I think we need another one or two victories to be fair, that’s from now. We want to stay up off our own merit and we want to go and win four if we can and drag someone else into it. We’ve got to keep fighting each week.
“We’ve got a good group and have had a lot of adversity thrown at us this year. Obviously not as much as last year but there is different things going on and we’ve stayed tight. There has been questions asked of people and we’ve come back and answered some today. We’ve got to kick on enjoy the rest of these four weeks and we’ll enjoy it by playing well and being able to sing the winning song.”
Stuart Littler makes one change to his squad from last week’s victory over Rochdale as young utility back Ryan Gray replaces Aaron Hall. Josh Woods joins up with the squad again on dual-registration from Wigan Warriors.
Craig Mullen, Macauley Davies and Josh Barlow continue to miss out through injury.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE CENTURIONS: Ben Austin, Andy Bracek, Joe Brown, Mike Butt, Rob Fairclough, Josh Ganson, Ryan Gray, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen,Will Hope, Paddy Jones, Rhodri Lloyd, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Luke Waterworth,Josh Woods, Paul Wood, Chris Worrall.
CENTURIONS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Matty Dawson Jones, Rhys Evans, Ben Reynold, Drew Hutchison, Kevin Larroyer, Greg Richards, Nick Gregson, Ricky Bailey, Jack Blagbrough, Ilias Bergal, Jordan Dezaria, Ryan Bailey, Micky Higham, Adam Walne, Josh Johnson, Jordan Walne, Bradley Whelan, Sam Peet.
REFEREE: S. Mikalauskas TOUCH JUDGES: J. Pullein, C. Etchells