Swinton Lions secured their Championship status with a late victory over a dogged Workington Town side at Heywood Road.
Swinton Lions 33-20 Workington Town
The Lions secured their status in the Championship for 2019 but were made to fight hard against a dogged Town side depleted by injuries that never gave up.
There were many fans from different clubs came along to watch the game and mentioned it was a better game than the Super League Grand Final as they were treated to some proper cup tie style rugby.
Swinton got off to the best start and forced a goal-line drop-out in the fourth minute and Luke Waterworth caught the defence sleeping as he went over from close range to the left of the posts with Jack Hansen converting. However, Town struck back quickly when the Lions lost the ball in their own twenty and the ball was spun out to the right and winger Joe Hambley raced away to score in the corner with Carl Forber adding a nice conversion off the touchline.
Forber then put his side ahead after fifteen minutes when he kicked a penalty for obstruction but the Lions regained the lead three minutes later when Waterworth added his second after the Town full back fumbled the ball near his own line, but Hansen could not convert. A Town player went on report for a high tackle on George Tyson after twenty five minutes but no penalty came from it.
With so much at stake between the two sides, it was Town who hit back next to snatch the lead five minutes from the break when some good build-up play saw Scott Rooke score under the posts and Forber again made no mistake with the kick. However, the Lions scored again on the stroke of half time when Rhodri Lloyd scored on the right and Hansen landed the kick to give his side a two-point advantage at the break.
The Lions started strongly again in the second half but could not crack the Town line and on fifty four minutes Town forced a goal-line drop-out and scored from it when Tyler Mellor scored under the posts and Forber again converted.
The lead did not last long when Josh Woods launched a kick to the left corner and Liam Paisley was first to the ball and flicked it to the supporting Woods, who dived over in the corner to score but Hansen could not convert with the boot and the scores were level at twenty all.
The Lions went back ahead four minutes later when the impressive Kyle Shelford evaded a few tackle attempts to score to by the posts and Hansen converted.
Town then forced another goal-line drop-out but could not get past the Lions defence and with nine minutes left Woods tried a drop goal but it sailed wide. The Wigan youngster was successful though five minutes later to put his team two scores ahead and the Lions made their Championship future safe in the final minute when Craig Mullen made a telling break right down centre field and from the play the ball it went left where Rhodri Lloyd, who was on hand to score by the posts and Hansen converted as the hooter sounded.
Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road
LIONS: 7. Jack Hansen, 16. Ryan Gray, 11. Rhodri Lloyd, 4. George Tyson, 32. Craig Mullen, 30. Rob Fairclough, 31. Josh Woods, 8. Andy Bracek, 9.Luke Waterworth, 10. Andy Thornley, 17. Kyle Shelford, 33. Liam Paisley, 25. Will Hope. SUBS: 15. Ben Austin, 34. Josh Ganson, 24. Aaron Hall, 35. Paddy Jones.
TOWN: 24. Tyler Mellor, 2. Joe Hambley, 12. Kurt Maulding, 16. Ben Morris, NN. Scott Rooke, 6. Jamie Doran, 7. Carl Forber, 23. Tyler Dickinson, 9. James Newton, 15. Tom Curwen, 4. Gordon Maulding, 21. Jake Moore, 18. Karl Olstrum. SUBS: 8. Oliver Wilkes, 20. Sean Penkywicz, 5. Perry Singleton, 11. Andrew Dawson.
Tries: Hambley (9), Rooke (35), Mellor (54) Goals: Forber 4/4