Rochdale Hornets 28-26 Swinton Lions
Sunday 8th July 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 20
Setareki Talatoka, Richard Lepori, Jovili Taira, George King, Morgan Smith,
Morgan Smith 4,
George Tyson, Joe Brown, Patrick Jones,
Chris Hankinson 7,
PATIENT HORNETS STING LIONS AT THE DEATH
A PIECE of last-gasp brilliance from dual registered Morgan Smith was enough for a patient Hornets side to nudge past Swinton Lions on a sweltering day at the Crown Oil Arena.
Swinton thought they had done enough when Chris Hankinson went to clear the ball up field at the end of a Swinton Lions set but with the impressive Smith darted from the line with his arms aloft, the kick was charged down and bounced kindly for the half back to race away for the winning score.
Hornets had to be patient though, until that moment, they had never been ahead in the game – the boot of Hankinson keeping them at arm’s length.
It started well for the visitors. They ended consecutive sets with 40/20 kicks after an initial good defensive set from the hosts pinned them inside their own half.
From the first it was George Tyson who benefitted with the ball being swept out to the left flank for him to ghost through the hole. The second took a bit more work. Hornets weathered the initial barrage but a cheap penalty on halfway gifted Swinton more possession. Again Swinton used the left edge and the cut out pass to Joe Brown was touched down. Hankinson tagging on the extras for a 0-12 Swinton lead without Hornets touching the pill.
Hornets looked nervous when they eventually had possession and frustration set in on 12 minutes when a flowing move freed up Toby Adamson in the left centre who looked to be in for a certain score but some last ditch scramble forced him into touch. Hornets won the possession back though shortly after with a huge hit from Gavin Bennion forcing the ball free for Hornets to shoot wide to Seta Tala who pumped the legs to muscle over. Smith added the two for 6-12.
Sensing it was going to be a tight afternoon and looking at Hornets robust defence, Chris Hankinson added two penalties with the boot before Hornets hit back through Richard Lepori on the edge. Smith unsuccessful this time for 10-16.
Further Hornets indiscipline was punished from Hankinson who slotted another penalty before Joe Taira hit a cut ball at full speed and used his strength to muscle over and touch down under a melee of Swinton defenders. Smith added the conversion to make it 16-18 at the break.
The Swinton game plan was clear in the second half: get somewhere close and let Hankinson do the rest and that was how it went on 48 minutes. Hornets snagged for hands in at the ruck, Hankinson slotting the resulting penalty for 16-20.
A real arm wrestle ensued in the next 20 minutes that would look to prove vital in the course of both club’s seasons. Swinton continued to apply the pressure before a sharp kick in goal pin-balled off defenders legs before being pounced on by ex-Hornet, Paddy Jones. Hankinson added the extras to extend the Lions’ lead to 10 points.
It would be the last Swinton points of the afternoon, though.
Hornets, who had found finishing sets difficult throughout the half, were now tasked with executing but as we headed into the final ten minutes points were hard to come by.
That was until Ben Moores jumped from dummy half to hit George King with a superb flat pass to touch down under the black dot. Smith the extras 22-26.
With the supporters praying for a miracle, Hankinson put the kick off out on the full – Hornets restarted deep inside Swinton territory. Last ditch defence and time wasting looked to have sealed it for the Lions, until Hankinson again rounded off a torrid five minutes, booming the kick into the arms of Morgan Smith who chased down the ball to score.