Swinton Lions will host the Wigan Warriors this Sunday afternoon in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup. Swinton had a great result in round five, beating the Huddersfield Giants. Meanwhile, Wigan are making their debut in this year’s competition.      

LAST TIME OUT

Swinton Lions come into this game on the back of a superb 27-20 win against the Championship newcomers, Toulouse. Swinton have had a rather poor season thus far, having only won three of their 13-league games. But two of those wins have come in their last three games, so their form is improving. They had a superb win in the last round away to Huddersfield Giants, were they beat the Super league team 28-24 in an absolute thriller. In their last game with Toulouse, Swinton got off to a great start, and took a 14-0 lead after 24-minutes, with two tries from Connor Dwyer. Toulouse got their first try of the game through Rhys Curran, which was quickly followed up by Swinton penalty-goal to give them a 16-6 lead at halftime. Toulouse would make a comeback and take a 20-18 second-half lead following tries from Kuni Minga, Paul Marcon and Gavin Marguerite. Swinton were shocked, and looked set for another league defeat. However, Connor Dwyer would complete his hat-trick and regain Swinton’s lead, which was followed up with an Andy Thornley try to give them a 26-20 lead with just under 10-minutes to go. The game was finally sealed in the dying moments with a Chris Acton drop-goal to complete a superb 27-20 win.

Wigan Warriors come into this game on the back of two defeats, the latest being a 31-16 loss against the high-flying Salford Red Devils. It was a tough game for Wigan, as they went into it with 14-players out injured, and having to do it tough. You could see were they missed these players, as Salford raced into a 16-0 first half lead through tries from Kris Welham, Niall Evalds and Ben Murdoch-Masila. In a half that they lost quite convincingly, Wigan didn’t do too much wrong, but found themselves behind going into the second half. It was Salford who continued their dominance, as they ran in for another two-tries through Niall Evalds and Greg Johnson to extend their lead to 28-0 lead, with still a good 20-minutes to go in the half. It wasn’t looking good for Wigan, but they refused to collapse and started a little bit of a comeback. They had a great finish to the game, and would go over for three tries through Tom Davies, Ryan Sutton and Lewis Tierney to get themselves back to 28-16. Once again, they’d left themselves too much to do, and in the final moments Salford confirmed their win with a late Gareth O’Brien drop-goal, that was quickly followed up by a penalty-goal. It was a great win for Salford, one in which put them back in the top three.

KEY BATTLES

These Challenge Cup games are always interesting affairs, as more than likely, neither side would have faced each other in a very long time. However, I always feel, despite the Super Leagues clubs gulf in class, the lower side always have a little advantage, as they are under no pressure whatsoever, and what helps them, is that they get to watch the likes of Wigan on a weekly basis on television, so they know how they play.

In terms of the game, it should be a tough battle for the opening 15-20 minutes, then I’d expect Wigan to kick-on from there. However, if Grant Gore and Chris Atkin can continue their recent good form, and start to trouble a mismatched Wigan side, they could get off to a good, early start. Wigan look set to have Williams and Gregson in the halves, another new partnership, so it’ll be interesting to see how they play together.

Last week, Connor Dwyer got a hat-trick in the win against Toulouse, and I’m sure Wigan will have one eye on him this Sunday, as if he’s given a chance, he’ll certainly make you pay. As for Wigan, they still have a very youthful looking side out, and they may hand two more debuts on Sunday, with Oliver Partington and Callum Field being included in the initial 19-man squad.

I think the biggest help the Swinton players will get on Sunday will be from the stands. There’ll be lots of locals there to cheer them on, and with the magic of the Cup, you just never know what will happen.

PREDICTIONS

The first 20-minutes or so will be a good battle between both sides. However, I’d then imagine Wigan will take full control of the game and see it off rather comfortably.

Wigan Warriors by 36

PRE-GAME MEDIA

Swinton Lions chairman John Roddy:

“Heywood Road has become a fantastic venue for us and we are really pleased we are hosting Wigan Warriors there this Sunday.

“It would be great to see the local community coming along and getting behind Swinton Lions to help us to secure a victory.

“Swinton Lions will be the underdogs for the game, without a doubt, however with a loud local support anything can happen in the Challenge Cup.”

Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:

“Every coach will be wanting to get to the Challenge Cup Final. We went the other year and beat Hull and it was one of the best weekends of my life.

“As a town, we’ve got a great affinity with the cup, I know all about that. (on Swinton) I watch a lot of their games and know a lot of their players and coaches really well.

“It’s a game I’m really looking forward to. I’ll find out a lot about the team this weekend. We’ll not be arrogant at all, we’ll go into this game very well prepared.”

SQUAD NEWS

Swinton make just the one change from last week’s stunning win over Toulouse, as Anthony Bate comes into the side in place of Callum Field.

Shaun Wane makes four changes from the side that lost to Salford Red Devils last week. George Williams, Michael McIlorum, Callum Field and Oliver Partington all come in for Sam Powell, Josh Woods, Joe Bretherton and Gabe Fell.

SQUADS

Swinton Lions: Chris Atkin, Ben Austin, Anthony Bate, Andy Bracek, Mike Butt, Liam Carberry, Oliver Davies, Connor Dwyer, Grant Gore, Chris Hankinson, Adam Jones, Rob Lever, Rhodri Lloyd, Jack Murphy, Anthony Nicholson, Shaun Robinson, Andy Thornley, Luke Waterworth and Ben White.

Wigan Warriors: Joe Burgess, Tom Davies, Liam Farrell, Callum Field, Liam Forsyth, Josh Ganson, Nick Gregson, Willie Isa, Liam Marshall, Michael Mcilorum, Romain Navarrete, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Oliver Partington, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, Joel Tomkins, Jack Wells and George Williams.

MATCH DETAILS 

Referee: Chris Kendall

Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan

Date/Time: Sunday 14th May 2017 – 15:00pm GMT