Swinton Lions 18-19 Sheffield Eagles
Sunday 8th April 2018, 16:30pm
Championship - Round: 10
Marcus Webb, Craig Mullen, Chris Hankinson,
Chris Hankinson 3,
Ben Blackmore 2, Iliess Macani,
Oscar Thomas 3,
Sheffield Eagles moved out of the Betfred Championship relegation zone with a 19-18 triumph over Swinton Lions at Heywood Road.
Simon Brown was the difference for the visitors as he kicked a drop goal three minutes from time to seal a vital victory.
Ben Blackmore notched a first half brace to put Sheffield ahead, with the visitors keeping Swinton try-less during the opening 40 minutes.
Without captain Matt James and star winger Garry Lo, the Eagles were underhanded but their walking wounded managed to grind out the win.
Blake Broadbent was named in the Eagles match day squad but didn’t feature, while Iliess Macani made a try-scoring return to the team.
It was Swinton who opened the scoring on eight minutes thanks to a Chris Hankinson penalty goal.
The response was emphatic from Sheffield as they notched the first try of the contest soon after.
Blackmore, who was the Man of the Match in the Eagles’ last meeting against Swinton at Heywood Road, streaked down the wing and beat his opposite number to cross underneath the sticks.
Oscar Thomas added the extras.
Both sides were guilty of errors following Blackmore’s four-pointer. Swinton had enough chances to level matters but the Eagles’ defence was solid – denying the Lions time after time.
Matty Costello starred with some great handling while always defusing numerous bombs put up by the Lions halves.
On the stroke of half-time, the Eagles extended their advantage as Blackmore picked up a Lions knock-on to go 70m to the whitewash.
Thomas converted after the hooter sounded.
Sheffield’s record of poor second half performances seemed to be rearing its ugly head once again as Swinton winger Marcus Webb cut the deficit with an acrobatic effort.
But, just like they did in the first half when the Lions added to their tally, Sheffield answered back with a try.
James Bentley broke through the defence and offloaded to fellow ex-Bull Iliess Macani, who crossed. Thomas was on hand to convert for 8-18.
In the final quarter, Swinton scored two consecutive tries to put the game in the balance at 18-all – either side of a missed drop goal from Thomas.
Craig Mullen and Hankinson both touched down, with the latter converting one from two.
Just as it looked like Swinton had the momentum, Brown forced an error with a beauty of a kick-off.
That gave Sheffield the perfect chance to strike, and they did just that as the experienced half-back kicked a drop goal which proved vital.
By Daniel Fowler