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15 June 2018

Swinton Lions welcome Halifax to Heywood Road in Round 17 of the Betfred Championship.

Swinton Lions play host to Halifax at Heywood Road in Round 17 of the Betfred Championship.

The Lions will be buoyed by their victory last week against Sheffield Eagles, which moved Stuart Littler’s men off the bottom of the table on points difference.

Richard Marshall’s Halifax have been impressive again this season as they chase a position in the Qualifiers and can boast the second meanest defence in the league after Toronto Wolfpack, however have scored the least points in the Championship’s top six.


Two tries in the final five minutes gave Halifax an eventual victory when it looked like the Lions were going to claim their first victory of the season.

The Lions started strongly and took the lead in the fourth minute when Jack Hansen put in a measured kick towards the right. Andy Thornley was first to react to the rolling ball to score and Chris Hankinson added the conversion. Grasping the early initiative, Swinton continued to pressure the line and nearly scored again when Levy Nzoungou was held up.

Halifax were limited to chances early on and Conor McGrath made a break down the right, only to be pulled back for a forward pass. As Fax looked to pull level, Will Sharp had a chance but some excellent scrambling defence by the Lions stopped the chance. James Saltonstall also had a good chance but he was knocked into touch as he went for the left corner, but the home side did eventually get on the board when some pressure on the line saw Chester Butler cross on the right, however Steve Tyrer could not add the conversion points from near the touchline.

It a tight first-half and Halifax almost took the lead in the dying seconds of the half, failing with another great chance but the ball went to ground and the Lions went in to the dressing room with the advantage.

Halifax again started as they had finished the first half with Tyrer going close only to be tackled short by debutant Brad Billsborough and in the same movement McGrath was held up in the last tackle.

Sensing a chance at victory, the Lions then went back on the attack.  Jack Hansen kicked the ball deep only for it to bounce off Will Sharp and roll into touch. From the scrum pressure, Swinton were awarded a penalty when Hankinson was the victim of a high tackle fifteen metres out and he dusted himself down and kicked the goal to stretch the slender lead.

The Lions then claimed their second try of the game as Hankinson stretched the Halifax defence with a terrific break down the right. The Lions’ number 3 quickly moving the ball left for Marcus Webb to reach out to score in the corner. Sadly Hankinson could not add the conversion from the touchline.

Tyrer put Halifax back into the game just after the hour mark when Scott Murrell put in a cross kick and the centre scored on the left and added the conversion. Murrell repeated the same thing a few minutes later, but Lions winger Mike Butt managed to clear his line. Mike Grady was placed on report for use of the legs in the tackle during the play.

The home side finally took the lead with five minutes left when Mark Nicholson lost control of the ball and it was picked up and moved quickly to McGrath who dived over in the corner as Tyrer missed the conversion.

Tyrer would make up for his miss with the boot, scoring his second on the left after they got six more tackles but again no conversion. With the victory slipping away, the Lions almost scored in the last couple of minutes when they were camped on the Halifax line but could not get over.

Ian Rigg reporting from the MBi Shay Stadium, 15/04/18


Head Coach Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV following his side’s huge win against Sheffield Eagles at the Olympic Legacy Park.

“We had some good performances out there today, but we can’t fall in love with ourselves and we’ll have to dust ourselves down. We’ve got to try and go back-to-back and obviously we’ve got Halifax next week who’ve been in a tough game with Leigh.

“We’ve got to try and look forward and we’ve got to start to try and look up. We’ve dragged another couple of clubs back into it with us and jumped above Rochdale on points difference and we’ve got to aim up. We’re not going to die we’re going to fight and we showed that today. There is a lot of fight in us and a long way to go in this season with fourteen or fifteen game remaining.

“It was outstanding the performance we gave at their place. They’ve had an outstanding season and are doing really well with the budget they have got and being a part-time team up there batting with the big boys at this end of the season. Every game is important for them, but we see every game as important for us, it will be a great tussle.

“Our battles are consistency and consistent actions and not falling in love with ourselves after a victory. Come in Tuesday prepared to work, Thursday prepared to work and then obviously the Saturday and the Sunday and we’ve got to go again next week.”


Levy Nzougnou returns to the Lions squad after returning on a month’s loan from Salford Red Devils.

Josh Barlow starts a three-match ban after pleading not guilty but was found guilty of a Grade D questioning integrity of Match Officials charge against Rochdale Hornets. Aaron Hall was a late replacement for Paddy Jones.

Captain Andy Bracek is set to make his 300th career appearance this weekend. Read his Captain’s Column here.

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

HALIFAX SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Ed Barber, Chester Butler, Jacob Fairbank, Dan Fleming, Shane Grady, Simon Grix, Ben Heaton, Ben Johnston, Sion Jones, Ben Kaye, Will Maher, Brandon Moore, Elliot Morris, Kieren Moss, Scott Murrell, James Saltonstall, Will Sharp, Adam Tangata, Steve Tyrer.


REFEREE:  M. Griffiths  TOUCH JUDGES: J. Butterfield, A. Williams


VENUE: Heywood Road, Sale, M33 3WB

TICKETS: Adults £18, Conc £13, Juniors FREE

Associate Match Sponsor and Match Ball Sponsorship packages are available at great rates for the ‘Battle of the Roses’. Contact Steve Wild at [email protected] for further details.


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