Match Report: Swinton Lions 16-20 North Wales Crusaders

Ryan Gould at Leigh Sports Village

North Wales Crusaders overcame several injury set-backs to beat Swinton Lions in an entertaining Championship encounter. 

A number of players were forced to play out of position for large parts of the game after Dan Birkett, Toby Adamson and Jono Smith all left the field injured.

But Crusaders rode that storm, and a fightback from the Lions, to seal what could turn out to be a very important win in the long run.

Crusaders opened the scoring when, after Michael Platt had gone close in the corner, Dan Birkett flung a ball out to Jono Smith from acting half to bulldoze his way over the line.

Dan Birkett limped off the field injured and his replacement, Gary Middlehurst, helped Crusaders score their second with his first touch, as he collected Wild’s cut-out pass before sending Craig Ashall in.

The away side should have crossed for their third try – which could have seen them out of sight within 20 minutes – but Stephen Wild was held up as he darted for the line.

Swinton made them pay; Mick Nanyn charged on to a short ball from Ian Watson to touch down next to the posts.

Stuart Reardon crossed in the corner on the half-time hooter after a looping pass from Stephen Wild, but he stepped in to touch in the process.

A number of errors and penalties from Swinton at the start of the second half gave Crusaders good field position, and Johnson took advantage as he slid in at the corner.

Dan Birkett had an opportunity on the wing just minutes later, after Craig Ashall had intercepted a Swinton move and broke clear, but his pass inside fell to ground.

However, North Wales did manage to extend their lead further. Tom Gilmore broke the line and, with several players in space on the wing, he chipped ahead for Adam Clay to score in the corner.

Luke Menzies replied for the Lions, though, as he took in an Ian Watson pass to slide in next to the posts.

And Kevin Penny reduced the deficit further in the next set after the kick-off; Ian Watson floated a high kick to the corner on the last and the winger leaped highest to collect and touch down.

Swinton had a couple of opportunities late on to snatch either a draw or a win, but Crusaders held firm to take the three points home.

23 Jordan Burke
22 Kevin Penny
3 Kash Watkins
4 Mick Nanyn
5 Freddie Walker
14 Liam Fishwick
7 Ian Watson
16 Mike Morrison
24 Brad Dwyer
8 Luke Menzies
11 Danny Halliwell
12 Darren Hawkyard
15 Josh Barlow
9 Andy Ackers
17 Zach Johnson
10 Jack Cooper
13 James Brown

Tries: Nanyn (29), Menzies (60), Penny (63)
Goals: Nanyn (2/3)

1 Tommy Johnson
22 Adam Clay
4 Michael Platt
17 Stuart Reardon
2 Dan Birkett
37 Tom Gilmore
7 Jamie Dallimore
8 Jonny Walker
9 Craig Ashall
15 David Mills
13 Jono Smith
14 Stephen Wild
11 Toby Adamson
19 Karl Ashall
12 Gary Middlehurst
27 Jamie Clarke
21 Simon Stephens

Tries: Smith (4), C. Ashall (15), Johnson (44), Clay (53)
Goals: Johnson (2/4)

Referee: Dave Merrick
HT: 6-12
Attendance: 587

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