Swinton Lions face Toronto Wolfpack in round 13 of the Betfred Championship.
Swinton Lions make their visit trip outside of Europe to play a regular league match against Toronto Wolfpack – the world’s first trans-atlantic professional sports team – in round 13 of the Betfred Championship.
History was made earlier in the season as the two sides faced each other for the first time ever at Heywood Road, with the visitors running out 52-12 victors.
The Lions are rooted to the bottom of the Championship as they make the long journey to Canada, but will look to Toronto and the following four games as a vital stage of the season. Swinton host Barrow Raiders at home before a double-header against Rochdale Hornets and a trip to the Olympic Legacy Park to face Sheffield Eagles in the next month.
Pre-season promotion favourites Toronto have stated their intent in the Championship, currently leading the division having only dropped three points this season. The Wolfpack are on a eight-game winning streak which started with their victory over the Lions in the reverse fixture.
Last season the Canadian side joined League 1 for their debut in the British game, winning all fifteen of their regular season matches and five out of seven playoff games to secure promotion to the Championship.
LAST TIME OUT
Swinton Lions 12-52 Toronto Wolfpack
A masterclass of half back play between both Blake Wallace and Ryan Brierley helped the Wolfpack return to winning ways in style.
Paul Rowley made some changes from last week’s loss at London and they were without Nick Rawsthorne, Jake Emmitt, Josh McCrone and Richard Whiting, but the players they brought in helped to put them back on the winning track.
Jake Butler-Fleming opened the visitors account in only the second minute when he found a gap on the left to score and Brierley converted but the Lions hit back quickly when a chip from Jack Hansen deflected off a Wolfpack defender and Gabe Fell collected the loose ball to send Mike Butt over. Josh Woods levelled the scores before Paul Rowley’s side cut loose.
Wallace scored the second after some good build up play by his forwards and again Brierley slotted the easy conversion. Three minutes later Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e cut through some poor defence to score by the posts and again the conversion was true.
Wallace then finished off another fine ball movement with his second try again by the posts and again another easy conversion as the Wolfpack were already running away with the game. This was capped off when former Lion Andy Ackers darted over from acting half back on stroke of half time and again the conversion was landed to give Wolfpack a huge 30-6 lead at the break.
Both teams had chances in the opening minutes of the second half with Pownall going close for Wolfpack and Elliott Caine having a good chance for the Lions but spilling the ball over the try line.
It wasn’t long before the Canadians got back into their stride when Wallace made a nice break to feed Brierley, who raced away to score by the posts and add the conversion to his own try. Pownall then scored one in the corner after a nice pass from Brierley but this time the conversion failed.
Then came two more tries in a two minute period with firstly Wallace completing his hat trick after another nice passing movement and then Liam Kay fed his centre partner Butler-Fleming, who raced a full fifty metres to score on the left. Brierley made no mistakes with the conversions as his side hit the half century mark.
The Lions had a rather flat day on the attack but showed some spark in the final ten minutes when firstly Jack Hansen made a nice break but ran out of support and then they had a chance near the posts but the lost the ball. They were though rewarded with four minutes left when Luke Waterworth spotted a gap in the Wolfpack defence to dive over and score under the posts from short range and Woods added the simple conversion as both sides held out until the end.
The Lions now face another tough game this weekend when the travel to play former coach John Duffy’s high flying Featherstone side.
Ian Rigg reporting from Heywood Road, 04/03/2018
Stuart Littler spoke to Lions TV’s Colin James following the Lions defeat to Toulouse Olympique.
“We’ve seen their ride over the last two years, they are a good side. I played with a lot of the lads or have seen the lads working under Paul Rowley at Leigh. Obviously they have added to that group and are getting stronger and stronger with quality signings from Super League and NRL.
“It’s going to be an experience for the boys, no doubt about it. Obviously it gives us a bit of time together away from families. We have a second family here and need to bond and grow and take on challenges. At the end of the day, we have a tough few weeks coming up with some challenges ahead. We’ve got to come out fighting and want to get out of this hole that we are in.
“I think that one result will lead to two and three, but we need to get that one result now and it’s needs must. It’s got to be all hands to deck and a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality, like a siege mentality.
“When something is telling you that you are tired or something isn’t happening positively we’ve got to flip that. The adversity we have to flip on its head and thrive on the challenge and stand up for yourself and be counted.”
Centre George Tyson returns to the Lions squad after several weeks out with an ankle injury. The former Oldham man has scored four tries in eight league appearances for the Lions this season.
Loose forward Tommy Gallagher brings a vast amount of experience to the side having come out retirement on a playing contract till the end of the season. Gallagher’s last game for the Lions was the 2015 League 1 Playoff final against Keighley Cougars, which saw the club promoted back to the Championship. Chris Worrall also returns to the match day squad after limited game time this season.
Levy Nzoungou and Gavin Bennion haven’t travelled to Toronto and their loan period at the club will end before the next game against Barrow. Connor Taylor has been released by the club to allow him to pursue playing time at Wigan St Patricks.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE TORONTO: Ben Austin, Ilias Bergal, Brad Billsborough, Mike Butt, Elliott Caine, Gabe Fell, Tommy Gallagher, Chris Hankinson, Hayden Hansen, Jack Hansen, Will Hope, Rhodri Lloyd, Mark Nicholson, Kyle Shelford, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Luke Waterworth, Chris Worrall.
TORONTO SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: TBC
REFEREE: P. Grant TOUCH JUDGES: P. Brooke, D. Sharpe
Joining the Swinton Lions bus from 3 Brewers in Liberty Village?
Please be advised that the bus will be leaving at 2:00pm sharp, so fans should be expected to arrive no later than 1:30pm to ensure a timely arrival in Markham.
All Swinton fans with a black A4 game ticket (collected from Canadian Affair or the Club) automatically have a place on the bus. 3 Brewers Liberty Village Address: 2 Liberty St Toronto, ON M6K 1A5
The club would like to wish all supporters a safe trip throughout their time in Canada and will strive to keep supporters informed of the latest relevant information throughout the duration of the trip across via our Facebook and Twitter pages and Swinton Lions website.