The Lions welcome Toulouse Olympique in Round 12 of the Betfred Championship.
Swinton Lions welcome promotion-chasing Toulouse Olympique in Round 12 of the Betfred Championship, providing free admission to all attending the game.
The Lions still seek their first win of the 2018 season but will take heart from recent performances which have seen them take point away at Barrow Raiders and run Halifax close in their last league fixture, losing by just six points at the MBi Shay Stadium.
Swinton head into a critical stage of the regular season after facing Toulouse, Stuart Littler’s men will make their first trip across the Atlantic to face current league leaders Toronto Wolfpack on May 5th. The following fixtures for the Lions include a home game against Barrow and back-to-back fixtures against fellow strugglers Rochdale Hornets – one at the SummerBash in Blackpool and the other being rearranged fixture following the postponement of the Round 2 clash – which could prove crucial in the club’s bid for survival in the Championship.
Toulouse Olympique made a strong start to 2018, taking 10 point from a possible 12 in their first five games which included a victory over the Lions on the opening weekend. The French side did however slip up the last round, losing unexpectedly away at Batley Bulldogs and will hope to secure victory on Saturday ahead of a tough run of fixtures themselves against fellow full-time promotion rivals Toronto Wolfpack, London Broncos and Featherstone Rovers.
In an initiative taken by the club’s board, admission to Saturday’s game will be free for all allowing for fans old and new, or those experiencing rugby league for the first time to enjoy a Championship game for nothing.
Five tries in the final fifteen minutes put an end to any hopes of the Lions getting anything out of this game as the home side ran away with the game.
Toulouse took the lead after only seven minutes when the Lions were pressing on the home side line, but a wild pass saw William Barthau intercept and race ninety metres to score before and Mark Kheirallah added the extras. This was swiftly followed by a second try three minutes later, when Tony Maurel scored an unconverted try in the left corner. The early dominance continued as Aussie Rhys Curran went in by the posts to add the third try on seventeen minutes and a conversion to put the home side ahead by 16.
The Lions finally saw some of the ball midway through the half and Kyle Shelford capitalised on some good pressure to score his first Lions try, as he chased a kick to score under the posts with Chris Hankinson added the simple conversion.
On the half hour mark a good passing movement saw Mike Butt score in the right corner but sadly Hankinson was unable to add the extras. Stan Robin then then created a try for Paul Marcon who scored in the corner but again no conversion for the French side. As the hooter blew Hankinson added a penalty goal after Josh Barlow had been obstructed.
Hankinson kicked another penalty just after the start of the second half, following a lot of pressure on the Toulouse line to put his side within six points. However the Lions failed to act on their opportunities and paid the price when Robin spotted a gap in the defence from twenty metres to race away and score on the left with the conversion being missed.
The Lions were still having good chances late in the second half but poor ball work allowed Maurel to sweep up a loose ball to race eighty metres to score an uncoverted try. As the Lions then went for the short kick, they were caught out again as Kheirallah claimed the ball and broke through the Swinton defence to send Gavin Marguerite away to score by the posts, with the conversion finally on target for the home side. There was still time for two more tries from Bastien Ader and Kheirallah as they found holes in the Lions defence and both were converted to maybe flatter the scoreline a little sending the large band of Lions fans back home disappointed.
Ian Rigg reporting at Stade Ernest Argeles, 03/02/18
Stuart Littler spoke to Lions TV’s Colin James following the Lions defeat to Halifax.
“We get a weekend off where we can freshen up some bodies up and obviously to push on to the Toulouse and Toronto games which are coming up before we have a massive few weeks ahead of that. We can’t look past the next game basically.
“Now every game we have to turn up and we need that commitment desire and hunger in every game we play in. Our battle is more with consistent actions and gettng that week in, week out from the group and not letting standards drop below that. I need people to pick that up and drive standards daily and we’ve got to do that to get ourselves out of that mess.”
Second Rower Matt Sarsfield makes a return to the Lions line-up for the first time in five weeks after being sidelined with a knee injury. Centre George Tyson is still missing with an ankle problem as is the in-form Gavin Bennion who suffered an late minor injury during training on Friday.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE TOULOUSE: Ben Austin, Ilias Bergal, Brad Billsborough, Andy Bracek, Mike Butt, Gabe Fell, Aaron Hall, Chris Hankinson, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Will Hope, Rhodri Lloyd, Mark Nicholson, Levy Nzoungou, Matt Sarsfield, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, Luke Waterworth, Marcus Webb.
TOULOUSE SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Bastien Ader, William Barthau, Andrew Bentley, Charles Bouzinac, Clement Boyer, Bastien Canet, Rhys Curran, Johnathon Ford, Tyla Hepi, Mark Kheirallah, Mourad Kriouache, Paul Marcon, Gavin Marguerite, Anthony Marion, Tony Maurel, Sébastien Planas, Sam Rapira, Stanislas Robin, Justin Sangare.
REFEREE: G. Dolan TOUCH JUDGES: A. Tolley, T. Jones
VENUE: Heywood Road, Sale, M33 3WB
TICKETS: FREE FOR ALL TO ATTEND. Register your attendance on Eventbrite now for guaranteed and quick entry here.