PREVIEW: SWINTON LIONS V OLDHAM RLFC
25 January 2019
Swinton Lions will face derby rivals Oldham RLFC in the last of three pre-season matches this Sunday 27th January at Heywood Road.
Swinton Lions will host League One side Oldham RLFC at Heywood Road in the final pre-season test for Stuart Littler’s side.
The clash will ignite a healthy rivalry between the two clubs which dates back to 1877 when the club’s first met and will act as the Lions final friendly before the Betfred Championship season opener away to Sheffield Eagles for the opening game of the season.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the local derby…
Swinton Lions returned to Heywood Road for 2019 in style, dominating a strong North Wales Crusaders side to claim the first victory of the year.
Tries from Luke Waterworth, Lewis Hatton, Daley Williams, Matty Ashton and Mike Butt saw the Lions claim a 26-0 victory in front of over 300 in attendance.
The Lions showed some brute in defence, keeping the visitor’s scoreless, whilst Ashton shined on his non-official home debut, winning the fans’ man of the match poll on social media.
The side will look to continue to improve against a strong Oldham RLFC in the local derby.
The Roughyeds have been busy during the off-season, signing a handful of experienced and talented players. Sam Brooks joins the side on a season-long loan from Championship side Halifax. Former Swinton Lions fullback Richie Hawkyard also signed a deal for the 2019 campaign, and made his debut against Barrow Raiders in January, defeating the side 24-10.
Wakefield’s Lee Kershaw, Jamaican international Aaron Jones Bishop and former Keighley forward Scott Law are amongst some of the new faces at Scott Naylor’s side, who will travel with confidence after defeating Rochdale Hornets in the Law Cup last weekend.
The two sides last met in 2017, clashing four times across the year.
Swinton took the first victory in the opening pre-season game, then were beaten at Bower Fold in a 22-18 defeat.
Oldham soon travelled to Heywood Road, finding the Lions in their top game, again winning the league game with a 26-4 scoreline.
The best was saved until last, with the teams meeting in the final round of the Championship Shield, in a match dubbed ‘The £100,000 Game’ in which a 29-6 victory was taken by the Lions to ensure their survival in the league and to relegate the Roughyeds to League One, with over 1,000 in attendance at Heywood Road.
Swinton Lions Head Coach Stuart Littler spoke to LionsTV following his side’s victory over North Wales Crusaders.
“Oldham are a very well coached side by Scott Naylor. We’ve had a couple of good tussles with them over the years. In the promotion season and the relegation fight when they got relegated at Heywood Road. They showed last week going to Barrow and winning that they’ve got a tough attitude. They will come fighting, it’s a local derby and hopefully we can get a big crowd in.
“They’re gonna come and try and turn us over. I think that’s really good for us rolling onto next week and the week after. It’s going to be a challenge and we’ve got to step up for it. It should be another week better. Week by week, everything is planned for a reason. I’m happy where we are but there is stuff to work on.”
On his team’s performance against Crusaders, Littler added: “Lewis Hatton is a machine at the moment. He looked really good in pre-season and he’s brought a lot of energy to this side. He’s relentless and always looking for work.
“I thought Matty Ashton really stood up today too. He came to the club as a fullback or centre and with Harry Aaronson’s injury he stepped in very competently against Salford and looked very composed in his defensive actions and was rewarded with a start. I thought he really stepped up and showed what he was about and there’s competition for places there.”
On the season start, Littler said: “We’ve got to be ready. We are ready. We’ve got competition for places this year and we’re going to have numbers. if you’re not doing your job there’s someone snapping for your jersey which is what you want as a coach. Every time we’re in we’ve got to strive to be better. I challenge all my staff, I challenge myself and I challenge my players. We’ll improve every week.”
Stuart Littler has 20 men to choose from for Sunday’s clash against Oldham.
Daley Williams and Mike Ratu suffered arm injuries during last weekend’s clash against North Wales Crusaders whilst Harry Aaronson is still out after dislocating his elbow. Kyle Shelford and Joe Digby also miss out with continued short-term injuries.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE ROUGHYEDS: Matty Ashton, Ben Austin, Gavin Bennion, Billy Brickhill, Mike Butt, Rob Fairclough, Ryan Gray, Aaron Hall, Jack Hansen, Frankie Halton, Lewis Hatton, Will Hope, Adam Jones, Paddy Jones, Jose Kenga, Rhodri Lloyd, Oscar Thomas, Luke Waterworth, Ashley Warne, Chris Worrall.
ROUGHYEDS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: TBC