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Featherstone Rovers v Swinton Lions Preview

Following an absolutely disastrous outing to Blackpool last weekend, Featherstone Rovers will just be happy to return home where they’ve played some good rugby this season. Jon Sharp’s men are fifth in the Kingstone Press Championship table and they can’t afford another bad performance or else they risk any chance of a top four finish. Swinton are two places below Featherstone in the table after the Lions managed a brilliant comeback victory against Oldham Roughyeds at the Summer Bash.

Last Time Out

Everything seemed to go wrong for Featherstone in the final match of Summer Bash 2016. Their opponents, Halifax, were 37-0 victors and 27 of those points came in the first half. Adam Tangata, Gareth Moore, Matt Sarsfield and Ben Johnston all crossed the whitewash for Halifax while the aforementioned Moore slotted over a penalty goal. The final play of the half saw Rovers concede a penalty deep in their own half and Fax goal-kicker Tyrer was on hand to add an extra two points to the scoreline. Things somehow looked bleaker for Featherstone after the restart when Misi Taulapapa was sin-binned for kicking the ball out of Ben Heaton’s hands while he was in the act of scoring. Fortunately for Rovers, Halifax couldn’t capitalise on the man advantage but they did score two more tries after Taulapapa returned. James Saltonstall and Tyrer were the try-scorers for Halifax either side of the hour mark as they capped off a brilliant performance while leaving Featherstone to lick their wounds after a dismal showing. 

Swinton came back from a 20-0 deficit to defeat Oldham 25-24. Oldham were 20 points to the good at half-time after four pointers from Kenny Hughes, Danny Langtree and Adam Files as well as a penalty goal from Lewis Palfrey. Swinton needed a quick response in the second half and they notched two tries in the first eight minutes to state their intentions clearly. Macauley Hallett and Chris Atkin were the try-scorers, and it was the latter who converted both tries to cut Oldham’s lead to just eight points. The real drama began as the match entered its final quarter, more so when Swinton back-rower Rhodri Lloyd barrelled his way over the try line. The conversion was good once again. A two point game with 15 minutes remaining had everyone on the edge of their seats and the comeback was complete when half-back, and Man of the Match, Matty Beharrell scored after he collected his own chip over the top. This sparked wild scenes in the Swinton end but there was a curveball to come. Adam Clay burrowed his way over the Swinton whitewash to tie the game up with five minutes left in the match. Palfrey was off target with his conversion attempt, despite the premature celebrations from the Oldham fans who thought that the kick went through the sticks. The Roughyeds then knocked on inside their own half and that gave Swinton, and Beharrell, the chance to win the game. The half-back coolly slotted over the drop goal as the Lions sealed a big win against the side they were promoted with last year. 

Key Battle

Both sides will be wanting to gain the upper hand at the Big Fellas Stadium this weekend and the attacking platforms set by the prop forwards will be vital. Featherstone’s completion rate against Halifax will have infuriated coach Jon Sharp and he will be wanting his side, and last week’s starting prop forwards of Darrell Griffin and Jordan Baldwinson, to stick with the basics and not try anything extravagant. Colton Roche and Jack Ormondroyd were the interchange prop forwards but their introduction couldn’t spark the Rovers into life as Fax dominated from start to finish. Swinton’s first half performance against Oldham left a lot to be desired but the Lions’ second half showing more than made amends for it. Front-rowers Ben Austin and Dan Fleming will be separated for this tie as the latter is serving a suspension for taking part in the brawl against Leigh two weeks ago. Zach Johnson will more than likely make an appearance for the Lions after having no further action taken following his early guilty plea to the RFL last week.

Prediction

Everybody will know about the resilience and spirt that is currently in the Swinton squad, more so after their win over Oldham in front of the Sky Sports cameras last weekend. They will be heading to West Yorkshire this weekend in hope of extending the gap between themselves and the relegation zone. However, Featherstone stand in their way and the Rovers know the importance of this match as they look to get back on the winning track and put pressure on the top four – Featherstone by 10

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