Please note that this match will take place at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.
Swinton made sure of their return to the Championship in dramatic fashion last season. A 29-28 victory over Keighley Cougars at Widnes’ Select Security Stadium brought jubilant scenes for the Lions fans who will now see their side take on the likes of Leigh and Bradford this season. Unfortunately for the newly promoted side, they lost two of their biggest assets to Keighley in the off-season. The Hawkyard brothers, Richie and Darren, both made the switch to Cougar Park which left Lions coach John Duffy needing to make some additions. Anthony Nicholson, Stephen Nash and Liam Hood are the most notable signings that have been made by Duffy, who will be keen to see his side flourish in the second tier. With three pre-season friendlies originally scheduled, Swinton had the weather to thank for only getting to play one of them. A 30-24 defeat to Rochdale shouldn’t be worried about too much but the match fitness of the players may come into question when they take on Dewsbury, who have played four pre-season matches.
With over ten signings made by Rams coach Glenn Morrison for the year ahead, it wasn’t a surprise that the West Yorkshire club had planned numerous pre-season matches. There was the usual Boxing Day clash against Heavy Woollen neighbours Batley Bulldogs, a game which Dewsbury were defeated in at the Tetley’s Stadium. Further losses came against Sheffield Eagles and a strong St Helens outfit as Morrison tried to work out his match day squad for the first game of the Championship season. The final match of pre-season was by far the highlight for Dewsbury as they hammered London Broncos 34-0. Ben Reynolds, on loan from Leigh, ran the show for Dewsbury from half-back while young prop forward Jack Teanby, who has taken his chance in the first team with both hands, won the Man of the Match award. With experienced props such as Tony Tonks, Ryan Hepworth and Matt Groat at the club, Teanby will only get better at Dewsbury and that can only mean good things for all parties. Swinton will be wanting to make a statement of intent to other clubs who may find themselves in the lower echelons of the league come the Qualifiers/Championship Shield split. To kick off with a win against Dewsbury would be the dream for Duffy’s men but the Rams are a very solid Championship outfit, who will be very hard to break down.
A good battle to look out for in this tie will be between Dewsbury half-back Reynolds and Swinton’s Matt Beharrell. Both players have won awards for their past performances in League 1 and now they have a chance to show their worth at the next level. Swinton may struggle in the forward pack against a very fearsome Rams outfit. Tonks, Groat, Joel Farrell and the Adamson brothers (Toby and Luke) are all very good players in the Dewsbury squad and the Lions will have to tame those figures if they’re to gain any success from this match.
Prediction – Dewsbury by 18