Championship Shield Match Report: Swinton v Sheffield

Swinton hosted Sheffield at Heywood Road in the Championship Shield. It was a tight game throughout with the Eagles just hanging on for victory.

The Lions opened scoring just 90 seconds in when debutant Ilias Bergal pinned his ears back and pushed through a hole created by Jack Murphy. That was converted by Chris Hankinson and Swinton almost scored moments later but the ball trickled into touch.

The Eagles responded after seven minutes when a looping ball by Jack Owens put Ben Blackmore in on the right. Owens missed the conversion but it was 6-4.

Sheffield attacked with relish on the next set but Owens coughed up possession.

Swinton then went close as Ben White went downfield but Hankinson couldn’t take Thomas Coyle’s kick.

The game ebbed with attacking options aplenty but Coyle couldn’t take the ball close to the line after 18 minutes.

Sheffield responded when a high kick from Owens was chased by Paddy Flynn and the ball broke for Elliott Minchella to score.

A long range effort followed in the 24th minute when Blackmore got the ball away with a one handed flick and Flynn blazed away and turned Murphy inside and out. Owens added his first goal and it was 14-6 to the visitors.

Swinton again marched downfield, aided by penalties and a smart inside ball by Ben White saw Jack Murphy sail under the posts. Hankinson goaled and the Lions went 90 metres with their next set.

George Milton won a penalty for the Eagles and they received a fortuitous call before Owens sent Menzie Yere speeding through for an owens improved score. It was 20-12 and Sheffield were starting to make inroads before an error handed the ball back to Swinton.

They took advantage too as Anthony Nicholson and Ben White combined for Rob Lever to crash through for his first try of the season. Hankinson again goaled to close the deficit to two points and that was how it remained at half-time.

The second half got underway with Owens kicking long. Mark Nicholson was inches away from opening second half scoring but Lions fans didnt have to wait too long when Lever ploughed over after a great run by Hankinson and some smart ruck work by Anthony Nicholson. Hankinson added his fourth goal and Swinton led 24-20.

It could have been even better for Swinton but Coyles pass for Ben Austin went forward. The Lions forced a drop out but Mark Nicholson lost possession. Sheffield immediately went wide with Garry Lo charging forty metres but when he lost the ball, Sheffield went back for the attacking scrum.

The Eagles got a bit of offload rugny going before a threaded grubber led to Minchella scoring his second try of the game after 52 minutes. Owens third goal handed Eagles a narrow advantage.

A penalty created position for Sheffield but an excellent hit by Mark Nicholson forced an error. Sheffield attacked with their defence and forced a turnover on halfway.

Good defence by Swinton forced an error from Mark Mexico to give the hosts a chance to work upfield but the game entered a scrappy phase. Both teams were guilty of cheap turnovers

Elliott Minchella went closest to breaking the deadlock with a kick to the ingoal after 61 minutes but even that went dead. Minchella saved Sheffield at the other end but it proved temporary respite until Hankinson lost the ball afrer taking a huge Yere tackle.

It was a real slog from both teams before a 69th minute error from White. With Swinton in attack, White dipped left but his pass only found Paddy Flynn. He in turn found Ben Blackmore who went sixty metres for his second. Owens goaled from the touchline to open up a eight point advantage.

Swinton regained possesion from a short restart and Luke Waterworth was held up over the line. Lo tgen came to the Eagles rescue with an important leap to a crossfield kick.

With an eight point advantage the game was there for the Eagles to manage before Matty Fozard ran behind his own man.

After 75 minutes Swinton scored through Ben White to set up an exciting finish. Hankinson added his fifth goal to make it 30-32.

Swinton rolled forward and Sheffield came back with Owens kicking to touch. It meant the Lions had to go ninety metres on the set. Although they had the tackle count wiped down and won a penalty, the Lions failed to find touch and Sheffield counted the clock down to pick up victory.

Referee: Chris Campbell.
Penalties: 10-4 to Swinton.
Attendance: 434.

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