Swinton Lions 22 Halifax RLFC 28
Ian Rigg reports from The Willows
In a pulsating match on Friday night the Lions gave the competition favourites something about as they almost pulled off a dramatic victory.
The home side started brightly and had the first chance of the match when hooker Karl Ashall made a good run down the left but his final pass to winger Richard Flooks sailed into touch. Halifax took the lead on six minutes when Danny Jones sent through a stab kick which came off a Lions player and James Haley was on hand to score on the right. Lee Patersons conversion fell wide of the mark in the strong wind even though one of the touch judges raised his flag but he was over ruled by the referee. Three minutes later Fax were in again when Ben Black flung out a long pass to the left and Lions winger Rob Foxen tried to intercept but the ball flew over his head to former Salford winger Paul White who raced in at the corner and Patterson converted this time.
The Lions then had a couple of chances when firstly Neil Holland went close only to lose the ball near the line and then a good passing movement involving Flooks, Martin Ainscough, Mark Smith and Ian Watson ended with Foxen knocking on in a good position. Lions centre Dean Thompson was sent to the sin bin on twenty-one minutes for holding down Rob Worrincy and this put more pressure on the Lions defence when Sean Penkywicz was held up over the line and from the play the ball Ainscough intercepted for the Lions and raced away down field but Paterson held on in the tackle for too long and he too was sent to the sin bin. From the penalty the Lions put pressure on the Fax line and a good passing movement saw Foxen race in at the corner to score but Gavin Dodd could not convert against the strong wind.
Black went close on the half hour and it took a superb tackle from Foxen to stop him from scoring but in the end Fax did break the Lions defences again seven minutes from the break when a looping pass from Haley sent Worrincy in at the corner but Jones could not add the conversion points. The Lions hit back almost from the re start when pressure on the line saw Watson put in a super little reverse angle kick for Smith to run onto and score by the posts with Dodd adding the simple conversion. And on the stroke of half time the Lions snatched the lead when Thompson powered for the line and managed to ground the ball over his head as he was tackled and again Dodd converted as the hooter sounded.
The Lions started the second half on the attack and Flooks had the first chance of the half as he was tackled into touch as he went for the corner. Both sides then had spells of pressure but defences where on top but it was Fax who went back into the lead on fifty-six minutes when the Lions where a man down on the field when Flooks got injured but Black sent out a super pass for Paterson to race through the defence to score under the posts and he also added the conversion points. The Lions then had a couple of chances with firstly Sam Barlow stopping a try and then Ashall went close down the left after a break by Thompson.
The Lions regained the lead on sixty-two minutes when Watson sent out a nice short pass for Holland to score under the posts and Dodd again converted. The visitors responded within four minutes when Paterson scored his second in the left corner but the conversion sailed wide of the posts. The next Lions chance came on seventy-two minutes when Foxen had the ball on the right wing and put in a cross kick towards the posts and the only person near the kick when it landed was Ian Mort who seemed to be in a different time zone when he picked it up and raced away to score and for one minute most of the fans thought the try was going to be given but Robert Hicks was on the mark to give the offside against the home team. There was another Lions chance just after this and Paterson was forced dead in goal by the Lions attack. Sam Barlow made the game safe for fax in the final minute when he scored in the corner after a Lions handling error but Patterson could not convert.
Subs (All Used)
Tries : Foxen (27), Smith (37), Thompson (40)
Goals : Dodd ¾
Sin Bin : Thompson (21) Holding Down
Subs (All Used)
Tries : Haley (6), White (9),Worrincy (33)
Paterson (56,66), S.Barlow (79)
Goals : Paterson 2/5
Sin Bin : Paterson (25) Holding Down
Prog Score : 0-4,0-10,4-10,4-14,10-14,16-14,16-20,22-20,22-24,22-28.
Referee : Robert Hicks
Att : 917
Pens : 11-13
Men of Match
Lions : Ian Watson
Fax : Ben Black
Gamestar : Ian Watson – The Lions play maker helped create two of his teams well taken tries.
Gamebreaker : Sam Barlows try in the final minute. Up until then the game could have gone either way.
Coaches comments :
Matt Calland :-
I thought we played pretty amateurish at times and we let them back into the game but they played very well tonight. We gave away too many penalties and played some dumb stuff and Swinton took their chances well. They have some good players in their squad and they made us pay for our mistakes and we will look for improvement over the coming weeks. There are lots of things to work on but I am sure we will be ok but I wanted to see what some of the other squad members could do tonight. We have a new half back combination and that will take a few games to gel.
Steve McCormack :-
I am not really pleased as I think its a game we could have won actually and it was a magnificent effort against last seasons Champions and the side they put out tonight just shows they are still going forward. We just need a little bit more composure but I can't fault our enthusiasm on the field and we played some nice stuff tonight. We brought Smithy on to calm things down a little and he scored a nice try too. I think everyone who came tonight with have gone home pleased with what they have seen on the field and hopefully they will be back for the next game.
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