Swinton Lions 54 Cornwall RLFC 16 – Match Report
May 21, 2022
Cornwall fell to defeat in Manchester as Swinton Lions kept their promotion push on track with a hard-fought victory.
The scoreline was tough on Cornwall who, for long periods of a typically physical encounter, more than matched Allan Coleman’s troops
Indeed the Choughs were almost unrecognisible from the side which lost to West Wales Raiders in round eight at a rain-lashed Memorial Ground last Sunday.
Handing full debuts to recent recruit Nathan Conroy and hooker Luke Collins, Cornwall chief Neil Kelly demanded a reaction from his side and that’s exactly what he got at Heywood Road, home of third tier rugby union side Sale FC.
Pre-game, Kelly was forced to reshuffle his matchday 17 when Henry Symons tweaked a hamstring in Friday’s team run. The winger was replaced by Joe Purcell with the former Wigan youngster taking his place out wide.
Swinton, who eased past Hunslet last time out, opened the scoring after eight minutes. Chancing their collective arms on the last tackle, the ball was shipped wide at pace and Italian winer Richard Lepori did the rest. Dan Abram kicked the extras and the Lions were up and running.
But Cornwall reacted well to falling behind as former Bradford and Keighley man Conroy was held up over the whitewash. The Choughs then had three consecutive sets on Swinton’s line but could not force a way through a stubborn Lions rearguard.
Swinton’s defensive endeavours inspired the hosts with ball in hand and they scored a second try with Lepori repeating his earlier dose but Abram missed the conversion.
Straight from the restart, Cornwall were then dealt a blow as Andy Kay was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle. Playing a man light. Cornwall conceded again with prop Lewis Hatton crashing over from close-range.
Staring down the barrel, Cornwall regrouped and managed to open their own account, albeit in rather fortunate circumstances.
Scrum-half Jack Hansen’s pass was intercepted by his opposite number Adam Rusling and he turned on the after-burners to race fully 70 metres to dot down. Kyle Johns failed to convert and Swinton led 16-4.
Two further scores, both unconverted from Billy Brickhill and Jayden Hatton restored Swinton’s superiority on the scoreboard just after the 30-minute mark.
However, Cornwall finished the opening period strongly and scored a second try which their first half showing absolutely deserved. With the half-time siren sounding, the outstanding Liam Whitton ran across the Swinton defence and he found Purcell who cut inside brilliantly to touch down under the sticks.
Johns’ radar was back on point and Cornwall went into the sheds 24-10 down.
After half time, the feeling amongst both sets of supporters was that whichever way the next score went would ultimately decide the destination of two competition points.
And sadly for Cornwall, within 90 seconds of the restart, Swinton scored that all-important try. The ball went loose in midfield and with the Lions reacting quickest, they broke free and substitute George Roby claimed four-points.
Abram converted and any hope Cornwall had was extinguished after 55 minutes with the Choughs instrumental in their own downfall. Johns missed touch with a penalty and Swinton ran in out wide for Max Roberts to coast home.
Cornwall dug deep and didn’t fold though with the outstanding Rusling scoring his second and Cornwall’s third try of the afternoon just after the hour mark.
The Hull KIngston Rovers loanee’s neat grubber forced a mistake from Swinton full-back Mike Butt with Rusling gobbling up the opportunity to score.
Twelve minutes from time, Swinton added their third try of the second stanza to secure victory and finally break Cornwall’s brave resistance. Mitch Cox was the man in blue to score when he was halted just short of the Cornwall line but managed to reach an arm out to score.
The game then descended into something of a scrappy affair as its conclusion approached with tempers boiling over on more than one occasion.
With seven minutes to go, Cornwall forced a Swinton handling error but merry whistle blower Michael Mannifield reversed the decision after ruling that Cornwall were the aggressors in a episode of handbags.
The Lions drove forward and a tiring visiting defence was breached by Butts’ dancing feet before Hansen did similar in the dying embers.
Abram converting both late scores hoisted Swinton over the 50-point mark but given the disappointment of losing to West Wales seven days earlier, there was much to be positive about from a Cornwall perspective with Kelly’s side now not back in action until June 4 when they host London Skolars.
Swinton: Butt, J Hatton, Roberts, Lloyd, Lepori, Abram, Hansen, Spencer, Wilkinson, L Hatton, Brickhill, Cox, Gregson. Interchange (all used): Roby, Brown, Kenga, Charnock.
Tries: Lepori (2), L Hatton, Brickhill, J Hatton, Roby, Roberts, Cox, Butts, Hansen. Goals: Abram 6/10
Cornwall: Whitton, Purcell, Aaronson, Johns, Adams, Conroy, Rusling, Walker, Collins, Kay, Odgers, Tora, Collinson. Interchange (all used): Gilder, Collings, Hartshorne, Prisk.
Tries: Rusling (2), Purcell. Goals: Johns 2/3. Sin-bin: Kay (high tackle)
Referee: Michael Mannifield; Touch Judges: Craig Swanson and Gareth Evans; Reserve Referee: James Collier.