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08 June 2018

Swinton Lions travel to the Olympic Legacy Park to face Sheffield Eagles in Round 16 of the Betfred Championship.

Swinton Lions travel to the Olympic Legacy Park to face Sheffield Eagles in Round 16 of the Betfred Championship.

Stuart Littler’s men suffered their twelfth defeat of the Championship season last week against Rochdale, whom they had beaten comfortably a week earlier at the SummerBash. The loss leaves the Lions just two points behind the Hornets and four behind this weekend’s opponents in the race to avoid the drop.

Sunday’s clash will complete what Swinton Chairman Andy Mazey described as ‘four cup finals’, after the Lions drew against Barrow before a win and a loss against Rochdale. Forthcoming games see the Lions face some of the in-form sides in the Championship, including Halifax and London Broncos.

Swinton can take some comfort in the fact that the Eagles have only won once in the league at home this season, beating Rochdale Hornets 38-20 in Round 8. Sheffield’s last outing saw Cory Aston run in three tries to help his team to a 38-22 victory away to Barrow, whom have only given four points away at Craven Park all season.

Sheffield Head Coach Mark Aston has praised Swinton this week, stating “I rate Swinton quite highly. They have some cracking players, they play a nice brand of football”

Aston added, “When we beat them 19-18, Stuart Littler (Swinton coach), who I have had association with for a very long time, was spitting feathers as I could understand because they need to win those games.

“But I said to him that they would be alright.


The Lions haven’t beaten Sheffield in the Championship since 16th June 2016

A Simon Brown drop goal two minutes from time secured the points in this end to end game where both teams had chances galore but Mark Aston’s team held out despite a late Lions onslaught.

Chris Hankinson put the Lions in the lead in the sixth minute with a penalty goal but it was Eagles who hit back shortly afterwards when they broke down the right and Ben Blackmore took the final pass to score under the posts, Oscar Thomas adding the simple conversion.

Marcus Webb then had a chance for the Lions on the right but Illies Macani kicked the bouncing ball into the crowd. Gavin Bennion and Luke Waterworth were both held up within a minute and then to make it worse Swinton lost the ball on the last tackle. Jon Magrin went close for Eagles just before the break when he grounded the ball by posts, however it was judged a double movement and the Lions had the penalty on their own line. Once they moved up field but a Josh Woods pass near the Eagles line was intercepted by Blackmore and he raced away to score his second and again this was converted by Thomas as the half time hooter sounded.

The Lions started brightly in the second half and were soon on the board when Webb scored in the right corner and Hankinson added a good conversion from the touchline to put his team back in the contest. However this was short lived when Macani broke down the left to score by the posts and Thomas again converted to stretch the advantage.

Swinton were getting stronger and stronger and full back Craig Mullen scored the next try after a good pass by Woods but Hankinson could not convert this one. The Lions were relentless in attacking the Eagles line, but the scrambling defence held out. It was only a matter of time before Sheffield cracked and just six minutes from time, Mullen put Hankinson through a large gap to score and add the conversion to level the scores. 

It was game on but with just two minutes left and on the last tackle, Brown slotted the drop goal between the posts to steal the victory for his side and the Lions did not have time to hit back.

Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road (08/04/18)


Head Coach Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV following the Lions’ home defeat to Rochdale Hornets.

“We thought we gave ourselves too much to do with our first half performance. I thought we let ourselves down with that performance in the first half.

“We spoke about a game-plan in the week, I don’t think we stuck to it. We spoke about stopping offloads, I think offloads killed us. We just offloaded and they played off the back of it. You can’t keep putting your hand in and giving them another set of six. We end up with eleven sets of six in the first half and it’s no way near good enough, it’s too hot to just keep defending. I said to the boys, if you send enough invites out someone generally turns up to the party.

“We’ve had a tough week with injuries and players getting pulled from us but we’ve got to deal with what we have. With the boys that went on the field, I think we had a good enough side to get a victory today. I think we let ourselves down with our application and our skill level. We improved in the second half towards the backend but we gave ourselves too much to do.

“The only way we are going to get out of this is by sticking together, working hard and we’ve got to work even harder. We’ve got some dejected and tired bodies but we’ve got to go again. It’s a massive game next week, we’ve got to forward to it and embrace it.”


Forward Will Hope makes a welcome return to the Lions squad after missing last week’s clash against Rochdale due to pre-arranged leave. Luke Waterworth is still unavailable with a calf injury and winger Ilias Bergal also misses out due to a persisting problem with one of his quadriceps.

Josh Woods, Joe Brown and Josh Ganson all arrive on dual-registration from Wigan Warriors. Paddy Jones appears for the Lions on trial.

LIONS SQUAD TO FACE EAGLES: Ben Austin, Josh Barlow, Brad Billsborough, Andy Bracek, Joe Brown, Mike Butt, Gabe Fell, Josh Ganson, Chris Hankinson, Jack Hansen, Hayden Hansen, Will Hope, Paddy Jones, Rhodri Lloyd, Liam Paisley, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Josh Woods.

EAGLES SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Ashworth, Aston, Blackmore, G Burns, P Burns, Costello, Fozard, James, Magrin, Makelim, Millar, Offerdahl, Pick, Spedding, Swift, Thomas, Toole, Weldon, Yere.


REFEREE: J. Mcmullen    TOUCH JUDGES: A. Tolley, J. Butterfield

KICK-OFF: Sunday 10th June, 15:00 BST 

VENUE: Olympic Legacy Park, Sheffield, S9 3TL

TICKETS: Adult £15, Concession £11, Juniors £3


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