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16 March 2018

The Lions travel to Featherstone Rovers’ LD Nutrition Stadium to face York City Knights in the fourth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.


Swinton Lions make an unexpected return to the LD Nutrition Stadium for the second time in a week to face York City Knights in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fourth round.

Due to a waterlogged pitch at Bootham Crescent, the decision was taken by both clubs on Friday to switch to Featherstone Rovers’ home ground, where the Lions suffered defeat last week in Round 6 of the Betfred Championship.

Stuart Littler’s team still seek their first win of the 2018 season and will hope that the Challenge Cup will provide a welcome distraction for his side ahead of tough fixtures against Leigh Centurions and London Broncos in the coming weeks.

York City Knights earned their first points of the season last week with a 24-22 away victory over promotion rivals Oldham Roughyeds. Joe Batchlor’s try proving to be the difference in a tense tie at the Vestacare Stadium.


Swinton Lions booked their place in the 2015 play-off final which saw Chris Atkin kick the winning drop goal in the third minute of golden point extra time in a game that was a great advert for top Championship One Rugby.

It was all Swinton in the early minutes and a chance was blown when Chris Atkin went through a gap but Jordan James got in his way on the way through and the penalty went to the visitors. Atkin though did put the Lions in the lead in the tenth minute when he latched onto a Ben White kick to score on the left but his conversion hit the posts and bounced out.

The Lions then had another couple of attacks on the Knights line but it was the Knights who hit back on seventeen minutes when Ed Smith latched onto a Jonny Presley kick over the try line to score but Ben Dent missed the conversion. The Lions hit back again to take the lead at the mid-point of the half when White went close but Atkin was taken out off the ball in the build-up and he dusted himself down before adding the penalty goal from close range.

York took the lead on twenty eight minutes when Kriss Brinning dived over from short range to the left of the posts but again Dent was off target with the kick. The Knights then stretched the lead just before the break when Presley sent Minikin away to score on the right but this time Jordan Howden was off target with the conversion.

The visitors made the best possible start to the second half when the Lions were on the attack in the York thirty and the ball from Rhodri Lloyd meant for his winger Butt landed behind him and Presley scooped up the ball to race fifty-five metres to score in the right corner but again Howden could not add the difficult conversion.

The Lions then hit back with their second try on forty eight minutes when the lively Atkin sent out a short pass for Connor Dwyer to cross on the left and Atkin added the conversion points to put the Lions within four of the Knights. Butt and Dwyer had further chances but some panic passing saw the ball go to ground. However, Butt did eventually score on the left after the Knights had knocked on in their own thirty. From the scrum the winger crossed in the corner and narrowed the angle but the Atkin conversion fell agonisingly wide and the scores were level.

At this point it was any ones game and both defences were tiring rapidly and it was getting near drop goal time. Howden put the Knights ahead with six minutes left when he landed a drop goal from thirty metres and it looked as though the Knights were on their way to Widnes but with just twelve seconds left on the clock when Atkin quickly passed it to White who saw his kick sail between the posts and the final hooter quickly followed.

The game then went into Golden Point and the first team to score in a ten minute period would win the match. First chance went to the Lions a minute in as Andy Ackers saw his drop goal attempt sail under the cross bar and then the Knights got the ball back but a wild pass saw them knock on and from the scrum in the eighty third minute the Lions got the ball back and Atkin landed the winning drop goal from twenty metres out to win the game and set up a final against Keighley Cougars at Widnes next Sunday.

Ian Rigg reporting from Sedgley Park, 27/09/15


Lions TV’s Colin James spoke to Stuart Littler ahead of Sunday’s clash against York City Knights.

“As I young boy I remember going down to Wembley with my dad, season after season. I think it’s great when you go down there and have different fans from different clubs. The cup is always special no matter who you play for.

“I remember playing as a kid for Leigh Miners against Rochdale in the Challenge Cup. It was a memorable day for the club. I gave a good account of myself as a 17-year-old boy and then I obviously moved on a played for Salford, Leigh and Swinton in the cup.

“It’s special memories and a special trophy you play for. I would have given my right arm to get to a Challenge Cup final but I never quite got there. I made it to a few quarter-finals though.

“I said to the boys it is about being in the hat come Monday. Hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves this weekend.

“We spoke about last year’s win over Huddersfield in the camp. It’s always a challenge when you play the team in the league above and you’re wanting to knock them off by playing a type of ball game they aren’t used to week in, week out.

“We had a good run in 2017, knocking Huddersfield out and playing Wigan at home. They are some good memories which helped the club from a sustainability point of view, getting a Super League team at home.

“We’re looking to progress as far as we can. York are no mugs. They are a good side, coached very well by James Ford. They’ve got some good structures. We’re good to go, we think we’ve turned a corner as a team.”

York City Knights Head Coach James Ford speaking to BBC Radio York Sport.


SWINTON: Second-rower and club captain Andy Thornley returns to for the first time in 9 months suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right leg. Full-back Marcus Webb is named in Stuart Littler’s 19-man squad for the first time this season since signing from Hunslet

Swinton have no players on dual-registration from Wigan Warriors and Gavin Bennion is unavailable on loan from Salford Red Devils as both teams don’t wish to make their players cup-tied.

The Lions will be without Danny Ansell and forward Omer Djalout who were released from the club on Friday.

YORK: Colton Roche, who faced Swinton in the team’s last meeting in 2015,  has returned to Huddersfield Giants who wish to avoid him being cup-tied. The same goes for York’s regular dual-reg Hull KR players apart from Kieren Moss who has already appeared for the Knights in the cup this season.

Veteran prop Adam Robinson is rested whilst while Ronan Dixon (hamstring) remains sidelined for the Knights. Their absence means Rory Dixon and Dan Hawksworth come into the pack.

LIONS SQUAD TO FACE KNIGHTS: Ben Austin, Josh Barlow, Andy Bracek, Mike Butt, Rob Fairclough, Aaron Hall, Chris Hankinson, Jack Hansen, Hayden Hansen, Rhodri Lloyd, Mark Nicholson, Matt Sarsfield, Kyle Shelford, Conor Taylor, Andy Thornley, George Tyson, Luke Waterworth, Marcus Webb.

KNIGHTS SQUAD TO FACE LIONS: Ash Robson, Ben Cockayne, Brad Hey, Judah Mazive, Connor Robinson, Andy Ellis, Graeme Horne, Batchelor, Sam Scott, Tim Spears, Chris Siddons, Joe Porter, Will Jubb, Rory Dixon, Jake Normington, Tom Saxton, Dan Hawksworth, Liam Jackson, Kieren Moss.


REFEREE: M. Mannifield  TOUCH JUDGES: R. Dolan, C. Worsley


VENUE: LD Nutrition Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone, West Yorkshire, WF7 5EN

TICKETS: Adults – £15, Concessions – £10, Under 16s – Free


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