Date: Friday 3rd April
Venue: Park Lane, Whitefield, Manchester
Both the Swinton Lions and North Wales Crusaders have looked unstoppable so far in 2015, but who will come out on top on in the League One opener?
Last Time Out
After the postponement of last week’s iPro Sport Cup Semi Final against Newcastle, the Lions last outing was a comfortable Challenge Cup victory at home to Rochdale a fortnight ago.
Grant Beecham and Chris Atkin both grabbed a brace with Chris Rothwell and Ritchie Hawkyard scoring a try each to secure a Fifth Round tie away at Championship side Batley Bulldogs.
North Wales, similar to Swinton, had their Semi Final at Oldham postponed but did humiliate Championship side Doncaster in the Challenge Cup two weeks ago.
Rob Massam stole the show as the man jokingly linked with the NFL this April Fools’ ran in four tries against a tired and reluctant Doncaster defence to put the Crusaders through to a Fifth Round tie against Featherstone. Alex Davidson, Stuart Reardon and Tommy Johnson also grabbed a try apiece.
The Lions will be without Rhodri Lloyd who following the end of his loan spell has moved on to another loan spell with Championship side Whitehaven.
John Duffy will also be without Connor Dwyer with the former St Helens youngster ruled out for four to six weeks with a shoulder injury.
The Crusaders are expected to remain unchanged from the Doncaster tie however the club have today released Alex Thompson.
There are many battles throughout the field for this one. Atkin v Johnson in the battle of the full backs the halves will see White and Rowland come up against White and Dallimore and two big hard running and hard hitting forward packs. It’s tough to choose one so enjoy the three!
What The Coaches Say
Swinton Lions Coach John Duffy: “It was very frustrating but obviously it keeps us a bit fresher for the first league game on Friday which we’re looking forward to.
“Things have gone really well. It’s been a tough transition and I’ve got to commend all the players for buying into the new structure. I said to them last week their hardworking mentality has got them to where we are so far. We’ve just got to keep plugging away each week and try to get better.”
“Crusaders are playing really well at the minute. They got a good win at Doncaster so Anthony’s got them firing and they seem like a real close bunch. They gave us a good touch up in pre-season and our boys are looking forward to the game to get a good win and start our league campaign.”
North Wales Crusaders Coach Anthony Murray: “With the pre-season we’ve had we should go into the Swinton game with confidence. They’re coming off a rich vein of form and have been beating teams quite convincingly. They had a great win at London and then beat Rochdale in the Challenge Cup so it will be a tough task and it should be a good game.”
It’s going to be a sensational game between the two in form sides coming out the cup competitions and unlike pre-season when a Warrington filled Crusaders ran rampant it’ll be a lot tougher this time round and should make for some enthralling entertainment – Crusaders by 6