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02 September 2018

There was jubilant scenes at Heywood Road on the final whistle as the Lions held on to secure a vital derby victory over Rochdale Hornets in the Betfred Championship Shield.

Joe Brown, currently on loan from Wigan Warriors, scored his first hat-trick for the Lions

Swinton Lions 23-18 Rochdale Hornets 

Swinton Lions threw themselves a massive lifeline with a hard fought victory over a dogged Hornets side, but both sides future in the Championship is still not cut and dried as they await news on the new proposed league structures.

Hornets almost stung the Lions in the opening set but they lost the ball on the last tackle just metres short of the line, but after that the Lions hit a purple patch and they played some excellent rugby with ball in hand in a four minute spell which saw them score three tries.

The first came on nine minutes when Josh Woods sent a floated kick to the left corner and Joe Brown took it without breaking stride to score in the corner. Rob Fairclough then opened his account for the day by converting from the touchline.

Three minutes later Brown was over again with a seventy metre run down the left wing with George Tyson in support, but he didn’t use him as he sold a huge dummy to Tyler Whittaker before scoring on the left, again Fairclough adding the goal points. Tyson then scored another long range try when Brown broke clear to draw Whittaker and pass to his centre who raced over. Fairclough added the conversion with the help of a deflection off the posts to put the Lions eighteen points up in no time.

Mike Butt then had a chance to increase his side’s lead but Rob Massam managed to get to the ball first. The Hornets then had some good pressure on the Lions line which saw Morgan Smith score under the posts and Whittaker convert to put Rochdale on the board.

Luke Adamson was sent to the sin bin on twenty-eight minutes for contact with the head on a tackle on forty metres but Fairclough could not land the penalty goal. Hornets then again came strong and the Lions defence were tested but held up to the task and with four minutes to go to the break Woods slotted over a drop goal to stretch the lead.

The Lions made a strong start to the second half and Butt had a chance from a Rhodri Lloyd kick but the ball just ran dead before he could touch it. Hornets were not lying down and added their second try on forty-five minutes when Jack Fox scored on the left and Whittaker again converted.

Hornets continued to look strong and were testing the Lions defence but great tackling and poor handling prevented them from scoring. Butt had another chance but was brought back for a forward pass in the buildup before Taira made a nice break down the middle for the visitors on the hour, but his pass to the support was forced and the ball went to ground.

Brown completed his hat-trick eighteen minutes from time after a floated Woods kick was knocked back to Tyson by Brown, and as the defence moved in on him he let out the pass to the Wigan loanee who dived over in the corner. Fairclough could not add the conversion but the Lions still had an eleven point lead. With desperation setting in, the Hornets continual pressure finally paid off five minutes later when Richard Lepori got over in the right corner, Whittaker again landed the conversion and it was game on again.

Woods then tried to create another try with a floated kick but Hornets got to it first and they put more pressure on the line but crucially lost it ten metres out in a tackle with two minutes left and any chance of victory went as the Lions held on to send the crowd home happy.

Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road


LIONS: 7. Jack Hansen,  5. Mike Butt, 11. Rhodri Lloyd, 4. George Tyson, 32. Joe Brown, 30. Rob Fairclough, 31. Josh Woods, 8. Andy Bracek, 9. Luke Waterworth, 33. Paul Wood, 10. Andy Thornley, 17. Kyle Shelford, 25. Will Hope

Subs (All Used): 34. Josh Ganson, 15. Ben Austin, 35. Paddy Jones, 14. Hayden Hansen

Tries: Brown (9,12,62), Tyson (15)    Goals: Fairclough 3/5    Drop Goal: Woods – 1


HORNETS: 14. Tyler Whittaker, 21. Richard Lepori, 31. Deon Cross, 12. Toby Adamson, 5. Rob Massam, 30. Morgan Smith, 7. Danny Yates, 8. Joe Taira, 9. Ben Moores, 16. Pat Moran, 13. Luke Adamson, 19. Lee Mitchell, 15. Lewis Hatton

Subs (All Used): 18. Billy Brickhill, 26. Jack Fox, 10. Joe Ryan, 25. Seta Tala (NU)

Tries: Smith (20), Fox (45), Lepori (62)    Goals: Whittaker 3/3

Sin-Bin: Luke Adamson (28) Contact with the head

Penalty Count: 9-7     Half-time: 19-6    Referee: Jack Smith Attendance: 541

Scoring Sequence: 6-0,12-0,18-0,18-6,19-6,19-12,23-12,23-18







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