Swinton Lions welcome promotion-chasing Featherstone Rovers in Round 21 of the Betfred Championship.
Swinton Lions welcome Featherstone Rovers to Heywood Road in Round 21 of the Betfred Championship, which will take place at an earlier kick-off time of 13:30pm.
The club welcomes supporters down to Heywood Road from 11:30am for an ‘all you can eat’ breakfast ahead of the big game and then encourages fans of both sides to stay after the full-time whistle has blown to watch the World Cup final, between France and Croatia on the big screen at the Lions Suite.
The Lions suffered a last-gasp defeat last week against relegation rivals Rochdale Hornets as Morgan Smith blocked and chased down a Chris Hankinson kick to earn the Championship’s bottom side victory. Following their late defeat, the Lions sit level on eight points with the Hornets – albeit with a superior points difference – and face a tough set of fixtures before the league splits in August.
Featherstone Rovers Head Coach John Duffy will receive a warm welcome back to Heywood Road where he coached Swinton for three years before moving to the LD Nutrition Stadium in 2017. His side have impressed this season as they seek a shot at promotion to the Super League via the Super 8s and currently sit fourth in the Championship table, a single point behind Toulouse and Halifax, who ended Featherstone’s 10-year winning run at The Shay with a 34-20 victory last week.
Championship Fixtures remaining
Swinton: Featherstone (H), Leigh (A), Batley (A)
Featherstone: Swinton (A) London (H), Toronto (A)
LAST TIME OUT
Featherstone Rovers 32-18 Swinton Lions
Swinton put up a great performance against high-flying Featherstone Rovers in a feisty affair which saw three players sent to the sin bin and Misi Taulapapa sent off for an attack on Lions’ scrum half Rob Fairclough.
The Lions were under the pump straight from the kick off when they lost the ball in the second tackle of the match in their own ten metre area but the home side could not capitalise. They did take the lead on seven minutes when Luke Briscoe found a gap in the Lions defence and he raced forty metres to score with Martin Ridyard adding the conversion. Defence was on top for the Lions and Rovers playing down the slope were probing for a gap which they did not find until the twenty-first minute when Keal Carlile darted over from short range and Ridyard again converted.
Stuart Littler’s men hit back on the half-hour when Fairclough and Josh Woods combined to send Matt Sarsfield away down the left to score but Chris Hankinson could not convert but Rovers hit back quickly when Matty Wildie sent Frankie Mariano over by the posts and Ridyard again made no mistake with his conversion.
Rovers went further ahead five into the second half when James Lockwood fed Ridyard to dive over under the posts and again he converted. However the Lions were not throwing in the towel and hit back quickly when Jack Higginson made a break down the left and put in a nicely weighted kick towards the try line. George Tyson won the race with Shaun Robinson to score the try but again Hankinson failed with the boot. It got even better just before the hour when Higginson went close on the left and from the play the ball Tyson managed to squeeze over in the left corner but again no conversion.
Rovers seem to have made the game safe on sixty-four minutes when Robinson scored one of his typical tries with an airborne dive into the left corner but Hardman could not convert this. Rhodri Lloyd and Tom Holmes were sent to the sin bin two minutes later for fighting and then on seventy-two minutes Taulapapa was sent off for an attack on Fairclough and the Lions half back was given a yellow card for retaliation.
Sarsfield added his second try with five minutes left from a Woods pass to score on the left and this time Woods took over the kicking to add the conversion. However Rovers had the last word as Robinson added his second in the final minute but again Hardman could not convert.
Ian Rigg reporting at LD Nutrition Stadium, 11/03/18
Head Coach Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV follow the Lions’ defeat against Rochdale Hornets.
“I’ve got a dejected changing room in there. I thought they worked hard and got into a winning position and it was just down to a couple of crucial errors at the end.
“The first half performance, we go in two points up when we had all of the ball and kept letting them back in with errors. We made six or seven yardage errors in the first half, three of them play one errors. We tapped it up again in the second half for play one errors, we’ve got to complete our sets.
“We would have put them to bed if we had completed our sets coming out of yardage there would have been a bigger gap at half-time. That said we still went in in front and got ourselves ahead with six minutes to go and needed to see that game out. We’ve got to get a bit deeper.
“I’ve got nothing on the boy (Hankinson), he’s been outstanding all year for us and one of our main players. We win together and lose together, we stick together and we’ve got to come out next week fighting again.
“We got to go and win some now and in the eights we’ve got to beat all the teams around us. Dewsbury have pulled away from us a little bit but Barrow are still in there.
“We’ve obviously got to keep working for every point that we can get, today is two points lost. We would have been out the bottom two for six minutes and blew our opportunity at the end. Hopefully we get a few more opportunities and obviously don’t come to regret this one come the end of the season.
“Featherstone have done well, they have a good squad and have spent some money. They have a good coach, a quality guy and still one of my best mates. They will be coming all guns blazing. They need to win every game for the four split and the fixtures at that end.
“There is a real fight at the top end and a real fight at the bottom end and that’s what we want in the Championship. I’m looking forward to it next week and to challenging ourselves against a good side.”
Macauley Davies and Rob Fairclough come straight into contention for Sunday’s clash after both joining the Lions on loan deals until the end of the 2018 season.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE ROVERS: Josh Barlow, Brad Billsborough, Andy Bracek, Joe Brown, Mike Butt, Macauley Davies, Rob Fairclough, Gabe Fell, Josh Ganson, Aaron Hall, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Will Hope, Paddy Jones, Rhodri Lloyd, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Luke Waterworth
ROVERS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS:Ian Hardman, Shaun Robinson, Misi Taulapapa, Luke Briscoe, Anthony Thackeray, Scott Wheeldon, Keal Carlile, Richard Moore, John Davies, James Lockwood, Matty Wildie, Gareth Hock, Luke Cooper, Jason Walton, Josh Hardcastle, Brad Knowles, Sam Brooks, James Thornton, Aaron Smith.
REFEREE: M. Rossleigh TOUCH JUDGES: G. Melling, L Bland
KICK-OFF: Sunday 15th July, 13:30 BST
VENUE: Heywood Road, Sale, M33 3WB
TICKETS: Adult £18, Concession £13, Juniors FREE. Tickets are available for purchase on the gate.