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09 February 2018

The Lions welcome Rochdale Hornets in the first Championship home game of the season at Heywood Road.

Swinton welcome Rochdale Hornets to Heywood Road in the Lions’ first home game of the 2018 Championship season.

The Lions are looking for their first two points of the season following last week’s defeat away to Toulouse, whereas Sunday’s visitors are playing their first game of the season after their opener against Batley was postponed due to ‘sustained weather damage’ to the pitch at the Crown Oil Arena.

The game marks the first time the two teams have met since the death of Swinton and Rochdale legend Ken Gowers, who passed away in October 2017. Ken will be remembered in a special programme available at the game on Sunday.


Rochdale Hornets 33-28 Swinton Lions 

Hornets broke Swinton hearts with seven minutes left as they snatched victory in dramatic circumstances.

Chris Atkin playing his one hundredth and final game for the Lions landed a penalty in the fourth minute, when he was pole axed as he sent a kick for his winger, but he got up and dusted himself off to land the points and maintain his scoring record. Hornets hit back three minutes later when Rob Massam fed the supporting Danny Yates and he scored a converted try to give them the lead against the run of play.

Atkin then put the Lions back in the lead when he dummied his way through to score by the posts and was fouled in the act of scoring as the Hornets defence slammed him into the wall behind the goal. This resulted in a small fight started which saw Jono Smith and Josh Barlow sent to the sin bin. Swinton were then awarded a penalty try with Atkin adding the conversion and the penalty goal.

Mike Butt increased the Lions lead on twenty-one minutes when Atkin kicked for the corner and Butt pounced on it the score with Atkin then again converting. With pressure on the line, Ryan Maneely scored from close range and Yates converted again but it got better for the Lions just before the break when Butt scored again in the left corner following another kick by Atkin. However, he could not add the conversion.

Hornets hit back straight after the restart when Penny made a break and from the pressure Josh Crowley scored on the right with Yates again converting to put his side within two points. Then on fifty-one minutes the scores were level when Yates landed a penalty and the home side continued the pressure with Jake Eccleston going over on the left from a kick but no conversion this time.

Swinton had been under the pump since the restart but scored an excellent try on fifty-six as Jack Murphy collected from Mike Butt’s 70 metre sprint to score under the posts with Atkin converting to give the Lions a two point lead. The joy was short lived though as Hornets’ Jono Smith scored from short range but again no conversion.

Atkin then levelled the scores with twelve minutes left when Hornets were caught off side in front of their own posts but the home side again went back into the lead with eight minutes left when Lewis Foster slotted over a drop goal.

The fans were being treated to some end to end rugby and the Lions were awarded another penalty with seven minutes left. Atkins’ kick struck the right hand post and bounced back and the Hornets gained the ball back. A minute later they were elated when Massam scored a fortunate try in the left corner after the ball appeared to bounce off one of his team mates before propelling forward to the winger, who scored in the corner to break the Lions fans hearts.

Ian Rigg at Crown Oil Arena.


“It’s a massive game and a derby game. Rochdale will come fired up. We’re both teams being tipped to finish in the same place in the league. However, we’re not buying into what people are tipping.

“There’s always a bit more to it when it’s local opposition, spoils are there to be taken. We’ve got to lick our wounds, dress ourselves down, see what went wrong and right and what we can work on for next week. It’s been tricky getting footage on Rochdale obviously because they haven’t had a game this week! That might swing in our favour that they haven’t played and we’ve battled hard against Toulouse. I need to get my troops right and we’ll go again.”



The Lions are still without forward Ben Austin and long-term absentee Andy Thornley. George Tyson also misses out due to a leg injury sustained in Toulouse.

Welsh international Rhodri Lloyd is fit to play after a minor head injury last week and Luke Waterworth returns after missing the trip to France due to an head injury sustained against Wigan.

Gavin Bennion, a familiar face to the visitors from last season, is bidding to make his first start this year after joining on an initial month loan from Salford Red Devils. Samy Kibula, Josh Woods, Macauley Davies and Liam Forsyth join the squad on dual registration from Wigan Warriors.


Rochdale haven’t played a game since facing Warrington Wolves in a friendly on 13 January.  A subsequent friendly against North Wales Crusaders and last week’s Championship home game against Batley Bulldogs were both called off due issues with the pitch at the Crown Oil Arena.

Former Super League forward Dave Allen is out injured with a wrist problem, whilst Toby Adamson also misses out. Jack Johnson, Luis Johnson and Pat Moran have all been named in Hornets’ squad on dual registration from Warrington Wolves.

LIONS SQUAD TO FACE HORNETS:  Ansell, Barlow, Bennion, Bracek, Butt, Davies, Fell, Forsyth, Hankinson, H Hansen, Kibula, Lloyd, Nicholson, Sarsfield, Shelford, Taylor, Waterworth, Woods, Worrall

HORNETS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Lepori, Kay, Johnson, Hurst, Massam, Palfrey, Yates, Cross, Taira, Moores, Hadden, Adamson, Maneely, Hatton, Mitchell, Middlehurst, Johnson, Moran, Gregory


TOUCH JUDGES: Mr A Smith, Mr P Marklove



VENUE: Heywood Road, Sale. M33 3WB.


Adults – £18 (17 to 64 years)

Concessionaries – £13 (over 65s and Student Card Holders)

Juniors – £2

This allows access to any part of the ground, including the main stand seating area.


There is extremely limited car parking on the ground, and supporters are asked NOT to attempt to drive down Heywood Road unless you have specifically been informed by the club that your name has been added to the car park guest list. There is adequate parking in the streets surrounding the ground, where residents’ only restrictions don’t apply on Sundays.


Should inform the club no later than 48 hours before kick-off, should they require disabled access to the official car park. Contact [email protected] to be added to the car park guest list. Ground access is via the Heywood Road entrance.


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