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Swinton Lions return to Heywood Road on 24th February to host French-side Toulouse in round four of the Betfred Championship.
01 February 2019
The Lions start the 2019 Betfred Championship campaign with a trip to Sheffield Eagles at the Olympic Legacy Stadium.
Stuart Littler’s side rounded off their preparations for the new season with a 22-18 victory over local rivals Oldham, following victory over North Wales Crusaders and a defeat at Salford Red Devils.
Swinton Lions make the journey to the Olympic Legacy Park to face Sheffield Eagles in the opening round of the 2019 season.
Here’s all you need to know ahead of the clash…
Swinton Lions capped off an impressive pre-season with a victory over promotion-chasing League One outfit Oldham RLFC, in which the side displayed some inspiring defence to keep Scott Naylor’s side at bay.
Stuart Littler’s side also defeated North Wales Crusaders, keeping the side scoreless with an impressive 26-0 victory just a week after their first hit-out of 2019 against Super League’s Salford Red Devis.
The club has also announced two major deals this week, with the confirmation of the continued dual-registration partnership with Wigan Warriors for the 2019 season., whilst also signing powerful-forward Jamie Acton for the upcoming season.
Sheffield Eagles head into the fixture with 14-new faces in the squad, including former Featherstone Rovers players Brad Knowles and Anthony Thackeray, who both bring experience and skill to the team.
Thackeray will partner new half-back and ex-Bulldog Pat Walker to provide a dangerous attack for the Eagles in 2019.
Mark Aston’s side haven’t had any publicised pre-season clashes, and should prove to be a stern test for the Lions for the opening two-points of the season.
The side’s last met in 2018, with the Lions hosting Sheffield first in round 10 of the Championship season, and it was the visitor’s who claimed the two-points with a close 19-18 victory at Heywood Road.
Swinton then travelled to the Olympic Legacy Stadium on a glorious day in June, and thanks to tries from Rhodri Lloyd, George Tyson, Mike Butt and Will Hope – plus a drop-goal from Wigan’s Josh Woods – the Lions claimed a 29-18 victory.
The final encounter came during the Championship Shield, in which Sheffield secured a 26-18 victory.
Swinton Lions Head Coach Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV following his team’s final pre-season clash at home against Oldham.
On heading into the Championship opener at Sheffield: “We’re rolling in with a bit of form, two wins on the bounce. We’ve got stuff to work on like every team but it gives us a chance look at our footage to get it right for next week.”
“I’ve said all along, pre-season is pre-season. The fun starts next week and it gets real now. Obviously there is winning pay on the line and we need to be rolling into the Championship. We need a positive start and we need to go there all guns blazing and let’s see how it goes.”
On having a large squad to give him a potential questions over team selection: “It’s good for once that I’ve got a bit of a headache. Last year I was obviously used to just having 18 or 19, now we’ve got 25. We’ve obviously got a few injuries from the pre-season games but we’ve also got Wigan to lean if we need to.
“I’ve got some decisions to make this week which is an interesting place to be in.”
New signing Jamie Acton is unavailable to play as he is currently serving a five-match ban.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE EAGLES: Matty Ashton, Ben Austin, Gavin Bennion, Billy Brickhill, Mike Butt, Rob Fairclough, Ryan Gray, Aaron Hall, Jack Hansen, Frankie Halton, Lewis Hatton, Will Hope, Adam Jones, Paddy Jones, Jose Kenga, Rhodri Lloyd, Oscar Thomas, Mike Ratu, Luke Waterworth, Ashley Warne, Daley Williams, Chris Worrall. – change where needed.
EAGLES SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Josh Guzdek, Ryan Millar, Jason Crookes, Ben Blackmore, Pat Walker, Anthony Thackeray, James Davey, Matt James, Brad Knowles, Joel Farrell, Aaron Brown, Greg Burns, Oliver Davies, Corey Makelim, Shaun Pick, James Glover, Sonny Esslemont, Blake Broadbent, Paddy Burns.
REFEREE: M. Rossleigh TOUCH JUDGES: B. Pearson, K. Moore
KICK OFF: Sunday 3rd February, 3:00pm
VENUE: Olympic Legacy Stadium