SWINTON LIONS V FEATHERSTONE ROVERS – SHIELD PREVIEW
21 September 2018
Swinton Lions welcome to Featherstone Rovers in the sixth round of the Betfred Championship Shield.
Swinton Lions welcome Championship Shield leaders Featherstone Rovers as the club continues to seek confirmation of Championship rugby league in 2019.
With two fixtures left, the Lions are seeking at least one victory over Featherstone or Batley to edge themselves away from Rochdale, who will face a playoff against the team that finishes third in League 1 should they end the season at the foot of the table. The gap between the two clubs still two points in the Lions favour.
The Hornets ran Leigh Centurions close last week at the Crown Oil Arena before succumbing defeat after Kevin Larroyer’s try gave the visitors victory, showing that Alan Kilshaw’s men still believe in hope of automatic survival.
Sunday’s visitors Featherstone have had little to play for since missing out on the Qualifiers, but have remained unbeaten since the split with only the Championship Shield to play for against Leigh Centurions. Former Lions Head Coach Duffy will be once again welcomed back to the club that he spent three years with, securing promotion to the Championship in 2015.
LIONS: Featherstone (H), Batley (A)
FEATHERSTONE: Swinton (A), Barrow (H)
ROCHDALE: Dewsbury (H), Sheffield (A)
CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD TABLE
LAST TIME OUT
Swinton Lions 4-60 Featherstone Rovers
Featherstone Rovers kept up their top four ambitions with a ten-try display against the Lions, who had chances in the first half but were held out by some great defence.
Former Lion Shaun Robinson put his side ahead in the seventh minute when he scored in the left corner and Ian Hardman converted and six minutes later Gareth Hock went on report for a dangerous tackle.
The Lions had some early chances with Rob Fairclough trying to make opportunities for his team, but the Rovers defence was very strong and they got their reward for their resilience on twenty-seven minutes. Luke Briscoe found himself with plenty of space to score on the right after the Lions defence was stretched and again Hardman converted from the touchline.
Hardman then added further points for the visitors, this time linking up with John Davies to score their third try, which he once again converted to give Featherstone an eighteen point advantage at the break.
Substitute Aaron Smith added the next Rovers try on forty-three minutes when he went over from short range and again the conversion was good. Just after the restart of play, referee Matt Rossleigh placed an incident on report for a tackle on Joe Brown in his own twenty, when he lost the ball and got a bang for his troubles. John Duffy’s men continued to look threatening and a brace of tries followed in four minutes for Misi Taulapapa when he was set up twice by Thackeray, with Hardman converting both.
Thackeray himself got on the board on fifty-eight minutes when some tired defence allowed him to score by the posts and the conversion made it forty-two nil to the visitors. Briscoe added his second try just after the hour after a huge overlap with another conversion from Hardman.
On a hot day temperatures rose in the second half and Hock saw a red card for dangerous contact on Josh Barlow before Jack Hansen and Andy Bracek were also sent to the sin bin as another fight broke out during a separate incident.
Rovers took advantage of the situation and Robinson should have had a second but for a wayward pass by Jason Walton eight minutes from time, but it was Hardman who grabbed his second converted try as Rovers hit the fifty mark.
The final Rovers try came with six minutes left after some poor tackles from the Lions allowed Josh Hardcastle to score and again Hardman made no mistake from the touchline for a perfect ten out of ten performance.
Despite a tough afternoon, the Lions’ fans finally had something to celebrate as their team opened their account in the dying minutes when Rhodri Lloyd sent Mike Butt over in the corner, but Rob Fairclough was unable to convert from the touchline.
Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road, 15/07/2018
Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV’s Colin James after his side’s defeat to Barrow Raiders at Craven Park.
“We asked for desire, hunger and determination. Things that I think are a given in a professional rugby league player. Obviously Barrow showed a lot more enthusiasm and will to win. We spoke at half-time about it being 14-12 and how we were happy to be in front, but that we probably hadn’t nailed our stuff. Completing at 50%, we go up a notch and hopefully the game swings in our favour.
“Instead we get a man in the sin-bin, let in three tries and there is no way back from it. Obviously I have some boys who’ve made some exceptional efforts and some boys that have let the other lads down out there. Rochdale pushed Leigh close today, but Leigh getting the win has done us a favour and we’ve still two points ahead with a few points difference. Being two points ahead with two games to go, I still we need to win one personally.
“The lads are down in the dressing room. We’ve not stuck to a structure and not played how we want to play. We started the game great and were on fire, looking like a dangerous team straight away from the first set. We want to play fast but I think we got slowed down throughout the game. We’ve got to be smarter in our actions. We get drawn in and talking back to referees is criminal.
“Speaking back, marching down the field, dissent and then getting sin-binned for it – it’s just schoolboy stuff. Week in, week out we talk about nailing stuff but we can’t keep hold of the ball and be giving penalties away plus people ripping the ball off us. We had the ball ripped of us four times. You’ve got to keep hold of the ball.
“It’s been a very inconsistent season, with patches here and there. We’ve probably not nailed an 80 minute performance and we’re rolling into these final two games, maybe three. The lads might have to cancel holidays.
“I want to be in this league and I wanna give my all. But if we are in the playoff, we are training till the playoff. I’m hoping though that we can nail our stuff in the next two weeks so we don’t have to but we have to perform a lot better than we did in that second half.”
Craig Mullen return to the Lions match-day squad for the first time since July and German international star Brad Billsborough also returns.
George Tyson misses out after one-match ban for dissent during last week’s clash at Barrow whilst Captain Andy Bracek is unavailable for selection this week. Joe Brown has been recalled by parent club Wigan Warriors.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE ROVERS: Ben Austin, Brad Billsborough, Mike Butt, Rob Fairclough, Gabe Fell, Josh Ganson, Ryan Gray, Aaron Hall, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Paddy Jones, Rhodri Lloyd, Craig Mullen, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, Luke Waterworth, Josh Woods, Paul Wood, Chris Worrall.
ROVERS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Ian Hardman, Dakota Whylie, Misi Taulapapa, Shaun Robinson, Anthony Thackeray, Matty Wildie, Danny Maskill, Luke Cooper, Josh Hardcastle, John Davies, James Lockwood, Sam Brooks, Brad Knowles, Connor Farrell, Keal Carlile, Harry Newman, Martyn Ridyard
REFEREE: T. Grant TOUCH JUDGES: C. Etchells, D. Arnold