Swinton Lions impressed again at Halifax again but two late tries denied Stuart Littler’s men their first win of 2018.
Halifax 18-12 Swinton Lions
Two tries in the final five minutes gave Halifax an eventual victory when it looked like the Lions were going to claim their first victory of the season.
The Lions started strongly and took the lead in the fourth minute when Jack Hansen put in a measured kick towards the right. Andy Thornley was first to react to the rolling ball to score and Chris Hankinson added the conversion. Grasping the early initiative, Swinton continued to pressure the line and nearly scored again when Levy Nzoungou was held up.
Halifax were limited to chances early on and Conor McGrath made a break down the right, only to be pulled back for a forward pass. As Fax looked to pull level, Will Sharp had a chance but some excellent scrambling defence by the Lions stopped the chance. James Saltonstall also had a good chance but he was knocked into touch as he went for the left corner, but the home side did eventually get on the board when some pressure on the line saw Chester Butler cross on the right, however Steve Tyrer could not add the conversion points from near the touchline.
It a tight first-half and Halifax almost took the lead in the dying seconds of the half, failing with another great chance but the ball went to ground and the Lions went in to the dressing room with the advantage.
Halifax again started as they had finished the first half with Tyrer going close only to be tackled short by debutant Brad Billsborough and in the same movement McGrath was held up in the last tackle.
Sensing a chance at victory, the Lions then went back on the attack. Jack Hansen kicked the ball deep only for it to bounce off Will Sharp and roll into touch. From the scrum pressure, Swinton were awarded a penalty when Hankinson was the victim of a high tackle fifteen metres out and he dusted himself down and kicked the goal to stretch the slender lead.
The Lions then claimed their second try of the game as Hankinson stretched the Halifax defence with a terrific break down the right. The Lions’ number 3 quickly moving the ball left for Marcus Webb to reach out to score in the corner. Sadly Hankinson could not add the conversion from the touchline.
Tyrer put Halifax back into the game just after the hour mark when Scott Murrell put in a cross kick and the centre scored on the left and added the conversion. Murrell repeated the same thing a few minutes later, but Lions winger Mike Butt managed to clear his line. Mike Grady was placed on report for use of the legs in the tackle during the play.
The home side finally took the lead with five minutes left when Mark Nicholson lost control of the ball and it was picked up and moved quickly to McGrath who dived over in the corner as Tyrer missed the conversion.
Tyrer would make up for his miss with the boot, scoring his second on the left after they got six more tackles but again no conversion. With the victory slipping away, the Lions almost scored in the last couple of minutes when they were camped on the Halifax line but could not get over.
Ian Rigg reporting from the MBi Shay Stadium
HALIFAX:1. Will Sharp, 21. Conor McGrath, 3. Steve Tyrer, 18. Chester Butler, 5. James Saltonstall, 6. Scott Murrell, 7. Ben Johnston, 30. Brandon Douglas, 9. Ben Kaye, 17. Will Maher, 12. Simon Grix, 11. Shane Grady, 13. Jacob Fairbank
Subs (All Used): 14. Brandon Moore, 25. Sion Jones, 29. Dan Fleming, 31. James Green
LIONS:1. Gabriel Fell, 2. Marcus Webb, 3. Chris Hankinson, 11. Rhodri Lloyd, 5. Mike Butt, 6. Brad Billsborough, 7. Jack Hansen, 8. Andy Bracek, 9. Luke Waterworth, 33. Gavin Bennion, 10. Andy Thornley, 18. Mark Nicholson, 34. Levy Nzoungou
Subs (All Used): 14. Hayden Hansen, 15. Ben Austin, 17. Kyle Shelford, 24. Aaron Hall