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Halifax v Swinton Lions Preview

Halifax have started to show a bit of the form that got them to the Qualifiers last season. Richard Marshall’s men are on a three game winning streak after victories over Oldham, Bradford Bulls and Featherstone Rovers. Swinton come into this tie following two consecutive wins on home turf. They got the better of Oldham in round eight before beating Workington Town last weekend.

Last Time Out

Halifax edged past fellow West Yorkshire club Featherstone Rovers by a single point at the Big Fellas Stadium. In a dramatic turn of events following Jordan Lilley’s drop goal with three minutes to play, Fax got the ball back from the restart and then won a penalty near to the opposition try line. Steve Tyrer kept calm and slotted the ball over to win the game for the visitors. There was nothing to separate the two sides after the first 40 minutes of play following tries from Gareth Moore and Lilley of Halifax and Featherstone respectively. In the opening stages of the second half came a try for Rovers’ Misi Taulapapa. The ensuing conversion was no good, however. Sam Smeaton levelled matters just moments later with a try against his former club and Tyrer was on target from the tee as Halifax hit the front. Smeaton doubled his tally for the afternoon five minutes after his first try. Tyrer made it a two score game after another conversiom. In the final quarter, Featherstone winger Scott Turner halved the deficit to set up an enthralling finish. Lilley nailed a brilliant touchline conversion and there was now only two points between the teams. Dual-registered half-back Lilley took centre stage from there as he kicked a penalty goal, then a drop goal to put Jon Sharp’s side in the lead. But, to the dismay of the home fans, Fax had the last say on the match courtesy of Tyrer’s penalty goal at the death.

Swinton Lions picked up their second victory of 2016 as they defeated Workington Town 26-22 at Heywood Road. The match started at a fast pace as both sides registered scores in the opening few minutes. Gabriel Fell was first over the whitewash for the Lions before Jack Murphy hit back for the visitors just moments later. Stuart Littler and Rhodri Lloyd notched consecutive tries for Swinton as they looked to make a solid lead heading into the second half. Chris Murphy of Workington and Liam Marshall of Swinton both struck four pointers before the interval as the hosts led 20-10. Within the first seven minutes of the second half, Workington had flipped the scoreline upside down as they overturned a ten point deficit into a two point lead. Greame Mattinson and Jarrod Sammut recorded converted tries and the lead they had created for their side stayed until the final quarter. Chris Atkin scored the winning try for Swinton with 13 minutes remaining in the tie. Heartbreak for Town but jubilation for the Lions, who seem to be settling well in the Championship after a rusty start.

Key Battle

The centres of both sides contributed massively to the cause in round nine. Steve Tyrer was magnificent from the kicking tee while Sam Smeaton notched two tries against his former employers to put them to the sword. Tyrer and Smeaton are experienced figures in the Championship and the quality they bring to the table is undeniable. Meanwhile, Rhodri Lloyd and Stuart Littler of Swinton both scored tries in their side’s victory over Workington Town. If they can carry on their recent form, the duo will cause problems at The Shay.

Prediction

Richard Marshall’s Fax side have a good balance in their squad. They can play expansive rugby but can also fight and win the close games, as shown by their most recent victory. Fax will be going up against a Swinton side who will be full of belief and determination following the past two weeks – Halifax by 16

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