Toronto responded to their worst defeat in club history in emphatic fashion, running rampant over Swinton at Heywood Road. 2017 fan favourite Blake Wallace made his first start for Toronto in 2018, filling in for suspended captain Josh McCrone at five-eighth. Wallace turned in a man of the match performance, showcasing an elite running game to score a brace of tries and make a line break to assist another. NRL veteran Reni Maitua made his debut for the Wolfpack.
The hosts got off to a bad start by sending the opening kick-off out on the full. Toronto made them pay on their first possession, as Wolfpack debutant Jake Butler-Fleming collected a loose ball before juking his way inside Swinton’s defence to score. Michael Butt drew level for Swinton after finishing a break on the inside to score in the corner. There was a hint of an obstruction on the play but the referee ruled a try.
Hooker Bob Beswick supplied a crafty ball for second rower Joe Westerman to break through the defensive line before he supplied a clever grubber for Ryan Brierley to bring Toronto back in front. Speedy fullback Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e was next to get on the scorers sheet, breaking the line off an inside ball from Australian front rower Ashton Sims.
Swinton’s five eighth Josh Woods produced an array of accurate bombs which troubled Toronto’s back three, however Swinton could not achieve a result.
Wallace crossed for Toronto following a left foot step and a quick turn of pace and a left foot step and then substitute hooker Andy Ackers threw a dummy before crashing through Swinton’s defence to close out a big first half for the Wolfpack.
The second half was more of the same for Toronto, as Wallace cut through the defensive line with another left foot step before delivering a pass to Brierley to complete his brace. Brierley turned from try scorer to assister as he through a long cut out pass for winger Johnny Pownall to score in the corner. Wallace then took control and scored his second try with yet another left foot step and dash to the try line.
Jake Butler-Fleming also completed a double after a Toronto short-side move exposed Swinton’s flank. Swinton hooker Luke Waterworth scored a consolation try after throwing a dummy and diving at the try line. Just as with Swinton’s first try this was not without controversy as replays showed Waterworth had grounded the ball short of the line before promoting the ball onto the line in a second effort.
With the win Toronto finds themselves in the top 4 which positions themselves to make the season ending middle 8 round robin in an attempt to gain promotion to Super League. Swinton are still searching for the first victory in the 2018 Championship season.
Toronto Wolfpack 52
Tries: Butler-Fleming (2, 62), Brierley (19, 47), Laulu-Togaga’e (21), Wallace (29, 60), Ackers (39), Pownall (51)
Goals: Brierley 8/9
Swinton Lions 12
Tries: Butt (10), Waterworth (77)
Goals: Woods 2/2