Swinton Lions produced an superb performance in the Yorkshire sunshine to overcome fellow strugglers Sheffield Eagles.
Sheffield Eagles 18-29 Swinton Lions
A great performance in the hot Sheffield sunshine saw the Lions pull off a stunning victory to move them back off the foot of the table.
Stuart Littler welcomed back playmaker Josh Woods on dual-registration from Wigan as hooker Josh Ganson and winger Joe Brown made impressive debuts, coming in for the injured Luke Waterworth and Ilias Bergal.
The Eagles took the lead in the sixth minute when Jack Ashworth made the most of an overlap to score on the left and Cory Aston added the conversion points. Swinton then hit back on eighteen minutes, when they forced a goal-line drop-out. From the kick they put pressure on the line and it was a precision slip pass from Woods that sent Rhodri Lloyd in for a try by the posts as Chris Hankinson added the conversion to level the scores.
Menzie Yere rolled back the years on twenty-three minutes when he broke down the middle to feed the supporting Mark Aston who scored under the posts and the try scorer also added the conversion.
The Lions were not in the mood for lying down and some great tactical kicking by Woods on the 4G pitch kept forcing Eagles back deep in their own half. This would eventually pay off when the Lions got a penalty for foul play on Jack Hansen and from the penalty pressure former Eagle George Tyson scored by the posts, Hankinson landing the conversion.
There were more chances before the break and Liam Paisley had a try disallowed for a knock on in the build-up and then Eagles had one cancelled out as they dropped the ball over the try line. But it was the Lions who looked likely to score in the final two minutes of the half with Woods chipping the defence, but Mike Butt couldn’t collect the bounce. Woods then had a shot at drop goal as the half time hooter sounded but the ball went wide.
Swinton made a dream start in the second half as the Eagles defence was wilting in the heat and Butt scored the next try on forty-five minutes after a nice inside pass from Hayden Hansen, taking the Lions winger past the hundred and fifty point mark in his Lions career. The in-form Hankinson added the extras.
Four minutes later they were in again when pressure on the line saw Lloyd put in a lovely short kick for the line between the posts. Former Eagle Will Hope won the foot race to score and Hankinson again was faultless with the boot.
The Eagles came back again following a handling error by Tyson near his own line at a scrum with Jake Spedding going over by the posts and Aston converting to put them within six points. This seemed to give the home side a boost as they went back on the attack but a superb tackle by Butt on Ryan Millar stopped the winger from scoring in the corner just knocking him over the side line.
After this it was nearly all Lions attacks as Sheffield looked as though they had accepted defeat and Woods slotted over a one pointer with twelve minutes left.
Tyson almost scored his second with four minutes left after some good work by his winger Brown, but he could not hold the pass. However he did make up for his earlier handing error to make the game safe, scoring a touchline hugging try two minutes from time Hankinson could not convert this one but the job was done, victory was in the bag for the first time since 2016 against Sheffield which was celebrated by the large following of Lions fans.