The Lions sit in 11th place in the Championship on eight points, two ahead of bottom side Rochdale and one behind 10th-placed Dewsbury. Facing Featherstone, Leigh and Batley in their final three regular games of the season, Swinton will pinpoint this game as one of their last big chances to pick up points.
Rochdale suffered a thrashing at the hands of Featherstone Rovers last week, who put 80 points on Alan Kilshaw’s men – the heaviest defeat of the 2018 Championship season. It comes after a rotten month for the Hornets who have scored just 24 points in their last four games, conceding 230.
Their final three regular season games include a home tie against Leigh and trips to Halifax and further afield to league leaders Toronto.
Rochdale: Swinton (H), Leigh (H), Toronto (A), Halifax (A)
LAST TIME OUT
Swinton Lions 18-25 Rochdale Hornets
Hornets got their revenge for their Summer Bash defeat in a hard fought encounter which saw Lions substitute Josh Barlow spend time in the sin bin before he was sent off in the dying minutes but by then the game was already won for the visitors.
Hayden Hansen and Liam Paisley were both held up in the opening ten minutes before Tyler Whittaker shot through a big gap to send Danny Yates in by the posts with Whittaker kicking the easy conversion.
But the Lions hit back quickly when Rhodri Lloyd forced his way over but the conversion from Chris Hankinson sailed wide. The visitors had lots of pressure on the line with some nice offloads and Gary Middlehurst scored by the posts after pressure on the line and Whittaker was on target again.
The Lions thought they had hit back when Mike Butt broke free from half way to feed the supporting Hayden Hansen who scored under the posts, only to see the referee back on half way awarding Hornets a penalty for offside much to the annoyance of the Swinton fans. From this it was more Hornets pressure when firstly Whittaker was held up and then Rob Massam found a way to score in the left corner, again his conversion was on target.
Josh Barlow was sent to the sin bin with seven minutes to go at the break for running in to a fight and in the dying seconds of the half George Tyson went for the corner but lost the ball trying to score.
Despite making a complete hash of the restart after half time, Hornets were on the scoreboard first when both half-backs combined to send Deon Cross over on the left and again the conversion was good from Whittaker.
The Lions came back again when they were awarded a penalty in the Hornets half and Hankinson forced his way over on the right but this time Jack Hansen could not convert this one. Both teams then had good attacking spells before Hornets were awarded a penalty thirty metres out in front of the posts and somehow Whittaker screwed this one wide of the posts.
The Lions’ next try came seven minutes from time when Tyson beat Richard Lepori to a Jack Hansen kick and from the play the ball Lloyd dived in for his second try but this time the conversion attempt from Hankinson struck the posts and bounced out.
As the clock ticked down, the Lions had another chance when Barlow went close in the corner but the ball ran away from him and during the restart something appeared to have been said to one of the officials and he was sent off. Whittaker then dropped a goal with two minutes left and Hankinson completed the scoring when he followed his own kick to score under the posts and he also added the conversion to his own try as the hooter sounded.
Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road, 03/06/2018
Head Coach Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV follow the Lions’ victory against Dewsbury Rams.
“When we were thirteen points up I thought it was in the bag but us being Swinton we make it a challenge for ourselves. I’m going greyer and balder week by week! My heart has just about got back to a normal level. I thought with going down to twelve men it would make it challenging but fair play to the boys who toughed it out.”
“When we spoke at half-time, we were probably running at about 2 1/2 out of 5 and if we could get up to 4 or 5 we would take some handling, which I thought we did. We probably would have dropped off towards the end with being down to twelve men and in the heat and Dewsbury came up with a charge towards the end.
“The results have gone for us with Sheffield and Rochdale getting beat and us beating Dewsbury, it’s been a good weekend for us. The focus now shifts, what has happened today is now history and we have to move on and look in front of us.”o
NB: We apologise for the poor audio quality featured in this video
Chris Hankinson will be available to play this weekend despite receiving a Grade B Dangerous Throw penalty notice, but he will serve his 1 match ban for next week’s home clash against Featherstone Rovers. Whereas, JoshBarlow returns after serving his three-match ban.
Ben Austin is still out of contention with an injury to his knee but Luke Waterworth makes a welcome return after an ankle injury that has kept him out in recent weeks. Brad Billsborough returns to the Lions squad after missing out last week.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE HORNETS: Josh Barlow, Brad Billsborough, Andy Bracek, Joe Brown, Mike Butt, Gabe Fell, Josh Ganson, Aaron Hall, Chris Hankinson, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Will Hope, Paddy Jones, Rhodri Lloyd, Mark Nicholson, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Luke Waterworth
HORNETS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Dec Kay, Jordan Syme, Rob Massam, Danny Yates, Joe Taira, Ben Moores, Gavin Bennion, Toby Adamson, Luke Adamson, Tyler Whittaker, Lewis Hatton, Pat Moran, Billy Brickhill, Lee Mitchell, Dec Gregory, Seta Tala, Morgan Smith, Deon Cross
REFEREE: Greg Dolan TOUCH JUDGES: A. Martin, M. Mannifield
KICK-OFF: Sunday 8th July, 15:00 BST
VENUE: Crown Oil Arena, Rochdale, OL11 5DS
TICKETS: Adult £15, Concession £10, Juniors £3. Tickets are available for purchase on the gate.