Betfred League 1 Round-Up
April 22, 2022
The stand out game of round four took place on Easter Sunday at Heywood Road as title favourites Swinton Lions and North Wales Crusaders locked horns.
In front of an excellent four-figure crowd, with a healthy contingent making the trip up from Wales, the two teams traded blows in a nip and tuck encounter.
The early exchanges were tight with Rob Massam (Crusaders) and Max Roberts (Swinton) denied by merry whistle blower Matt Rossleigh who pulled play back for forward passes.
The deadlock was finally broken just shy of the half hour mark when visiting interchange Alex Eckley powered over to score next to the Swinton posts. Tommy Johnson kicked the extras and Anthony Murray’s side carried their 6-0 lead into the turnaround.
Eight minutes into the second half and Swinton levelled thanks to a well worked try from Rhodri Lloyd which was converted by full-back Dan Abram.
Another forward pass denied Massam again before Crusaders scored their second and ultimately match-winning score. A neat grubber kick was seized upon by Gav Rodden and he made no mistake. Johnson, once again, added the extras.
Crusaders had a chance to further extend their advantage when Swinton were pinged for offside but Johnson couldn’t kick the penalty goal.
Finally, with three minutes to go, the points were made safe when former Swinton half-back Brad Billsborough kicked a field goal to hand the Welsh outfit a hard fought 13-6 win.
Also on Sunday, Midlands Hurricanes recorded a second successive win after an emphatic 50-28 triumph over London Skolars at Portway.
Hayden Freeman, who scored a hat-trick against the Choughs in Midlands’ previous outing, was once again on the mark with a brace. His feats were matched by Benn Hardcastle, Eliott Windley and Matty Welham. In his second game on loan from Bradford, David Foggin-Johnston also crossed the whitewash for the Hurricanes.
For the Skolars, who were only 22-16 behind at the break before Midlands took control in the second stanza, they scored five tries through Alex Deery (2), Jarred Bassett (2) and Harry Kaufman.
Oldham, who are Cornwall’s opponents this coming Sunday, were defeated 34-18 by 12-man Rochdale Hornets at Spotland.
The home side were forced to play a man light for 25 minutes of the second half after referee Liam Rush sent Callum Marriott from the field for an alleged head butt.
Despite Oldham having a numerical advantage, they couldn’t make it pay and Rochdale eased home. Lewis Sheridan and Gregg McNally both scored twice for the hosts with their tally completed by Dan Nixon and Cian Tyrer.
Owen Restall’s hat-trick was the only bright moment in a disappointing afternoon for the Roughyeds.
Along with North Wales Crusaders, Keighley Cougars are the only other side in Betfred League 1 with a 100 per cent winning record.
But until the dying embers at Hunslet on Good Friday, it looked like the Cougars’ fine start to 2022 would end.
The Parksiders led 16-14 as the final hooter approached with Keighley launching a desperate counter attack. Although the ball appeared to have gone forward, visiting winger Mo Agoro finished well out wide and the try was given. Jack Miller added the extras and Keighley had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and prevailed 20-16.
Sandwiched between the Good Friday and Easter Sunday matches was Cornwall’s trip to Doncaster.
Neil Kelly’s men were much-improved on their performance against Midlands Hurricanes six days previous and at one stage during the opening stanza, only trailed 10-6. Doncaster wrapped the points up early in the second half, but Cornwall had the final word through Jayden Myers.
Jake Lloyd and Joe Burton were also try scorers for the Choughs in a 52-16 reverse which hoisted the Dons back into the play-off places.