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23 March 2018

The Lions welcome unbeaten London Broncos to Heywood Road in Round 7 of the Betfred Championship.

Swinton Lions welcome league leaders London Broncos to Heywood Road in Round 7 of the Betfred Championship. 

Stuart Littler’s team still seek their first win of the 2018 season ahead of a busy Easter period hosting Leigh Centurions on Good Friday, before travelling to Cumbria to face Barrow Raiders on Easter Bank Holiday Monday.

London have proved the early pace-setters in the Championship, storming to five wins out of five to lead the Championship heading into Round 7. The Broncos have hit some impressive form especially in their last three home fixtures, scoring a collective 159 points in their three victories over Featherstone, Toronto and Batley. Sunday’s visitors have also proved to be solid in defence, conceding just 64 points, the lowest in the league this season.



A try by substitute Lewis Beinek in the dying seconds of the match was enough to secure London Broncos a very tight victory after a first half in which the home side dominated and the Lions looked like they were still on the bus.

London took the lead on three minutes when they charged down a Lions kick and Jay Pitts finished off the move with a try converted by Api Pewhairangi. Then  four minutes later Matt Garside stretched the lead with an unconverted try on the right-hand side.

The Broncos were on top and further capitalised on their good pressure as James Cunningham stretched over from close range on twenty-one minutes for another converted try which further put the home side in the driving seat. The Lions did eventually hit back when Chris Hankinson intercepted near his own line and the passing movement ended with Mike Butt putting Swinton on the board for the first time.

The Lions good spell wasn’t to last long though as within three minutes London increased their lead when the Lions lost the ball and Pewhairangi scored to the right of the posts and added the conversion and just before the break. Moments later Daniel Harrison was sin binned for dissent but there was too little time left in the half for the Lions to do anything in response.

Swinton started strongest in the early stages of second half and Butt almost claimed his second try from an Atkin kick but the ball just ran dead. The young winger didn’t have to wait long though scoring second on forty-eight minutes when he latched onto a Ben White pass and outpaced Garside to score in the corner. Atkin added the extras.

The home side responded strongly again though after the Lions lost the ball from the kick off and Pewhairangi claimed his second try of the game but was unable to add the conversion. Atkin then kicked a wonderful forty-twenty and from the play the ball pressure, Andy Bracek crashed in by the posts with Atkin converting to bring the Lions right back in it. Swinton prove unprepared after scoring again though as virtually from the kick off Broncos scored again. Mark Ioane scoring under the posts and the conversion was added.

Connor Dwyer had a great chance to score on the hour for the Lions when Atkin send him through a gap but he lost the ball. However in same move just a minute later, Dwyer held onto the pass to score and the conversion was again added to put the Lions within eight points of the Broncos. Things got even better with twelve minutes left for Swinton when Atkin, Jack Murphy and Callum Field all combined to send Butt over to complete his hat trick, however Atkin’s kick was off target.

With minutes left it was game on and Broncos were forced into a couple of panic plays as the Lions threw everything at them trying to snatch victory. With just seconds left and the home side driving with the ball went to ground. Young Broncos substitute Lewis Bienek swooped up the ball knocked Rob Lever out of the way to score the try which secured the points for Broncos. Pewhairangi confirming it with his conversion. 

Ian Rigg reporting from Ealing Trailfinders (30/04/17)


Lions TV’s Colin James spoke to Stuart Littler following Sunday’s defeat to York City Knights.

“Some of the actions we put together against York just weren’t good enough and won’t be, can’t be accepted. We need a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror. We’ve got to move forward and learn from this.

“We rewound a couple of weeks and we were back to 66% completion in the first half and seven penalties – it’s not rocket science, we not giving ourselves an opportunity. We’re turning the ball over and inviting teams down our end. Fair play to York, they deserved the win.

“We’ve got a tough game against London and a tough Easter period coming up, so it doesn’t get any easier. Games are going to come think and fast. We need some consistency and action and we are not getting it quite there yet. We’ll chop and change until we get the right mixture.

“It’s up to me. I look at myself first and look what we are doing. Trust me, I’m as down as anybody. We’ve got to pick some boys up and go again.”


Swintonian loose-forward Will Hope is in line to make his debut in a Lions shirt after the Irish international joined the club this week.  Lions’ captain Andy Thornley will hope to make his return after failing to pass a late fitness test to face York City Knights last week. Rob Fairclough misses out after suffering an injury in the Challenge Cup tie.

London’s prop-forward Lewis Bienek, who scored the winning try in the away fixture last year, agreed a three-year-deal to join Super League side Hull FC this week, but will be loaned straight back to the Broncos and will feature at Heywood Road.

LIONS SQUAD TO FACE BRONCOS: Ben Austin, Josh Barlow, Gavin Bennion, Andy Bracek, Mike Butt, Elliott Caine, Gabe Fell, Aaron Hall, Chris Hankinson, Jack Hansen, Hayden Hansen, Will Hope, Rhodri Lloyd, Matt Sarsfield, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Luke Waterworth, Marcuss Webb

BRONCOS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Eddie Battye, Lewis Bienek, Rob Butler, James Cunningham, Matt Davis, Sam Davis, Kieran Dixon, Matty Fleming, Matt Gee, Ben Hellewell, Mark Ioane, Will Lovell, James Meadows, Api Pewhairangi, Jay Pitts, Jarrod Sammut, Tom Spencer,  Alex Walker, Rhys Williams.


REFEREE: L. Staveley  TOUCH JUDGES: A. Smith, T. Arnold


VENUE: Heywood Road, Sale, Greater Manchester, M33 3WB

TICKETS: Adults – £18, Concessions – £13,  Juniors – £2


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