TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE V SWINTON LIONS – PREVIEW
03 February 2018
The Lions start their 2018 league campaign where they left off in 2017, with a trip to France to face Toulouse Olympique.
Swinton Lions start their 2018 Championship campaign in the South of France against full-time outfit Toulouse Olympique, kick-off 3pm locally (2pm GMT).
Tipped to be one the teams challenging for promotion, Toulouse narrowly missed on the Qualifiers in their debut season in the Championship but have strengthened their squad in the off-season in hope of improving on last year’s fifth-placed finish
Despite the late victory of Wigan in Sunday’s final pre-season friendly, Head Coach Stuart Littler is aware that his squad still have to improvem with every game now counting for something.
“I think we can be a bit smarter. We have to get smart and fast. We’ve come through pre-season with a couple of wins and ready to head in into next week. It starts now for points and we’ve got to work hard for those points each week.”
Full-time side Toulouse will prove to be a real contender for promotion in 2018, something that Stuart Littler is more than aware of as both sides meet on opening weekend.
“They are a quality side and have added to that with Sam Rapira and also Jonathan Ford is, on his day, one of the best players in the competition.
“Yes, we’ve got a task on our hands, but every week we will have a task on our hands. There is no ‘gimmes’ in this league anymore and we certainly don’t intend to be one either. I’m looking forward to going to France and seeing what we are about.”
LAST TIME OUT
The Lions brought down the curtain on a long hard season with a performance that almost gave them victory over the French side. The Lions fans once again turned up in force and they sang their way all the way through the game aided by a few beers and wines pre-match.
Toulouse opened the scoring in the second minute when Bastien Ader scored to the left of the posts and this was quickly followed by a second try three minutes later when Johnathon Ford sent Con Mika over by the posts.
It was all Toulouse attacks in the early stages but the Lions defence held them out and they got their rewards on sixteen minutes when Rob Lever went close. Luke Waterworth darted over by the posts from the play the ball with Chris Hankinson converting.
Tony Maurel and Kala Leha then added two more tries midway through the half. Bouzinac missed the first of the two conversion attempts and Maurel took the second and was on target as they stretched their lead and two minutes from the break. Louis Jouffret sending Rhys Curran away to score with Maurel converting again to give his side a twenty point advantage at the break.
Swinton made a great start to the second half when a great passing movement across field sent Ilias Bergal over in the corner but Hankinson could not convert. Then on forty-five minutes, Josh Woods raced away through the home defence to find his half back partner Ben White who scored by the posts with Hankinson converting and it was game on.
Ford then sent out a super pass that opened the Lions defence and Kuni Minga raced in by the posts with Maurel again adding a simple conversion. The Lions were getting stronger and stronger in attack and another piece of magic by Woods with a short kick through the defence and Anthony Nicholson chased it to regather and score by the posts with Hankinson adding the conversion and on fifty-seven minutes.
Referee Tom Crashley sent the dangerous Ford to the bin for obstruction on Murphy as he chased a kick through and from the penalty Liam Paisley went over to score with Hankinson converting to put the Lions only six points behind on the scoreboard.
Five minutes after the Paisley try Rhodri Lloyd managed to get Mike Butt in for a try in the corner but Hankinson’s conversion fell just wide. However, Toulouse hit back again when Jouffret sent Clement Boyer over for a try by the posts and Maurel again converted.
The Lions spirits were still high and Hankinson scored on the right with four minutes left but the conversion attempt from Jack Hansen hit the posts and bounced away but it was a frantic few minutes and Bergal almost scored a second from a chip to the corner but he could not hold the ball on the way down to the try line.
Danny Ansell, Hayden Hansen, Conor Taylor and George Tyson are line to make their league debuts for the club. Luke Waterworth has been rested after recieving a head injury in last week’s game against Wigan Warriors.
Macauley Davies, Oliver Partington and James Worthington join up with the Lions squad on dual registration from Wigan Warriors.
New Zealand prop Sam Rapira misses out for the French side following his move from Huddersfield Giants in the off-season due to recovering from a wrist injury.
Whils Johnathon Ford and Clément Boyer, who returned to training later than his teammates because of the Rugby League World Cup, was not considered ready play by the staff.
LIONS SQUAD TO FACE TOULOUSE: Danny Ansell, Josh Barlow, Andy Bracek, Mike Butt, Macauley Davies, Gabe Fell, Chris Hankinson, Jack Hansen, Hayden Hansen, Rhodri Lloyd, Mark Nicholson, Oliver Partington, Matt Sarsfield, Kyle Shelford, Conor Taylor, George Tyson, James Worthington, Chris Worrall.
TOULOUSE SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Bastien Ader, William Barthau, Andrew Bentley, Charles Bouzinac, Bastien Canet, Rhys Curran, Tyla Hepi, Mark Kheirallah, Mourad Kriouache, Paul Marcon, Gavin Marguerite, Anthony Marion, Maurel, Constantine Mika, Eddy Peetybourne, Sebastien Planas, Maxime Puech, Stanislas Robin, Justin Sangare.
KICK-OFF: 15:00PM (14:00 GMT)
VENUE: 1 Allée de la Piscine, 31700 Blagnac, France.
TICKET PRICES: 10 € : Admission fee only East stand 15€ : East stand – 5€ : Concession 20€ : Honneur/West stand
REFEREE: Mr T. Grant
TOUCH JUDGES: Mr C. Vergnes and Mr Q. Boissonade