Rochdale Hornets v Swinton Lions
Sunday 8th July 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 20
Stats over last 8 encounters
The last time these two sides met, Rochdale gained revenge just one week after their Summer Bash defeat to pick up a derby triumph at Heywood Road.
It seemed to be a comfortable victory for the visitors, before Swinton mounted a late comeback to put some doubt in Alan Kilshaw’s mind. In the end though, the Hornets emerged victorious, and took home the two points with a 25-18 win.
Tyler Whittaker’s break saw Danny Yates score the opening try in support, with Rhodri Lloyd hitting back from the kick-off set. An immediate Hornets response saw Gary Middlehurst cross on his return, before Rob Massam showed incredible strength to force his way over from dummy half, giving his side an 18-4 lead at the break.
A brilliant flowing move saw Deon Cross score on the left edge and put the game seemingly beyond doubt. Chris Hankinson’s double either side of Lloyd’s second of the game piled some late pressure on Rochdale, but Whittaker’s field-goal kept the hosts at arm’s length as they hung on for victory.
Just a week earlier, the Lions picked up their first win of the 2018 campaign at Bloomfield Road to consign the Hornets to a first Summer Bash loss, running out 38-12 winners.
Luke Waterworth opened the scoring for Swinton, before Dec Kay’s sensational flick pass ended in Richard Lepori crossing out wide. George Tyson scored the only other try of the first half to give Stuart Littler’s side a 12-6 lead at half-time.
Then came the Lions’ onslaught, as tries from Will Hope, Tyson, Josh Woods and Liam Paisley blew Hornets away in the second period. Jonah Cunningham rounded off the scoring with a consolation effort, as Rochdale were left bitterly disappointed with their second half performance.
Swinton head into this clash with some good form behind them, having mounted a late charge before the start of the Championship Shield.
Following their home defeat to the Hornets, they bounced back with a 29-18 triumph away to Sheffield Eagles, inspired by Tyson who picked up two of their five tries. Mike Butt, Lloyd and Hope were also on the scoresheet, with Hankinson adding four goals.
Then came back-to-back defeats at the hands of Halifax and London Broncos, but they travel to the Crown Oil Arena having picked up a vital 29-28 win over Dewsbury Rams. Paul Sykes’ inaccuracy off the kicking-tee proved vital, as the Rams out scored their opponents six tries to five, only for their half back to miss four conversion attempts. Hankinson’s field-goal proved the difference in the end, as well as his four conversions.
Hornets have lost their last four games, including a trip to Barrow Raiders which followed their victory over Swinton. With a tough run-in coming up before the split for the Super 8’s, they will be desperate to clinch two points to stand them in good stead for the final seven games.
ONES TO WATCH
Mike Butt – The Swinton winger knows his way to the try line, and will prove to be a handful out on the edges with his pace. Last season he scored in two of the three meetings, picking up three tries and causing problems to the Hornets defence.
Andy Thornley – Club captain Thornley leads from the front for the Lions, as the prop forward uses his size to get his side on the front foot. He has been at Swinton since 2014, and despite missing the back end of last season, he was integral in their survival having scored seven times in 13 games.
George Tyson – Having faced him five times last season, the former Oldham centre will be one to look out for in both clashes with Swinton. On his day, the explosive outside back can be unplayable, with his pace and power hard to contain. He will be desperate to put in a big performance in both meetings with Rochdale.
Q: It has been a frustrating time for the club recently with a few heavy defeats. There has been a lot of criticism of you and the group, what do you make of it all?
AK: “I understand the frustration, I understand the sadness and believe me when I say, no one feels it more than I do. Supporters and critics need to realise where we are at off the field to understand what is happening on it. We have been through a huge over haul and a unique set of circumstances outside of my, or my players control and ultimately has impacted on our squad depth and ability to compete week in, week out.
“We are in a transitional period but we’re still fighting and still have the belief we can survive.”
Q: Swinton have gone reasonably well over the last few weeks and snatched a vital win last week that blew the bottom of the table wide open – how will you approach this one?
AK: “They have been in good form since we last played them, they play a consistent style of rugby and have some quality players who would walk into any side in the Championship.
“We know we need to be on in every department if we are to get the win.”
Q: You will have a few players back in this week, the Adamson brothers are both named along with Joe Taira and Seta Tala. Will that give you a boost?
AK: “Yes. We have some much needed bodies back and it has boosted the group. We have been building for this and are ready to play.”