|It's the Quarter Finals of
the Challenge Cup this weekend and Wigan travel to, errrm, Wigan for an
"away" match against Swinton Lions on Sunday at the JJB Stadium.
Of course the fixture was
meant to be played at Swinton's Moor Lane ground but with that venue
only having a capacity of 2,500, the Lions reluctantly switched the game
to the JJB Stadium.
Swinton coach Peter Roe said:
"We would have preferred to play at our own ground because our
spectator base has increased lately but the Rugby League instructed us
to switch it to a different venue. We looked at neutral venues but they
would not have offered us the same financial benefits."
Swinton have come a hell of a
long way in the past year. 12 months a go they had a dwindling fan base
and almost went out of existence. That small fan base managed to set up
supporters' trust" and raise £25,000 which was, in the words
of Swinton director Richard Taylor, "the difference between finishing
the (last) season and not doing."
Serious Financial problems at
Bury Football Club also meant they have to leave Gigg Lane, their home
for the past ten years since Station Road was sold in 1992. They also
had a terrible time on the pitch winning just 6 of 27 NFP matches.
Twelve months on, the Lions
have moved to Moor Lane, the home of Salford City FC, which is much
nearer to Swinton then Bury was. They are also slowly but surely
increasing their fan base and performances on the pitch have improved
under new Coach Peter Roe, back for his second spell at the club.
Two weeks a go they hammered
Featherstone 32-10 to reach the Quarter Finals of the cup but just last
weekend they came crashing back down to earth losing 38-6 at Whitehaven
in the Arriva Trains Cup. They had to bring in an young amateur player
for the Whitehaven match due to only having 16 fit players.
Coach Roe said: "We had to
rake in an amateur kid for Whitehaven. It was a reminder that we're
still not far off being a struggling club and people have to understand
that and be realistic."
Very true. They have to be
realistic. They've little chance of beating us but the Swinton fans
won't care. Sunday's game will see the Swinton Supporters Trust's hard
work having paid off and credit to them. Sunday's game will see Swinton
earn a reported £17,500 which is a fortune to them.
Wigan coach Stuart Raper sends
his players into the game demanding they play consistently well for the
full 80 minutes and rightly so. Both at Doncaster two weeks a go and
against Huddersfield last week, the Warriors have let the opposition
score when in complete control of the game.
They led 50-0 after 55 minutes
at Doncaster but let them score 10 unanswered points late on. That
didn't really matter in the end but against the Giants they let, what I
felt was a comfortable 13-0 and then 19-4 lead, be whittled down to, at
one point, just a 29-22 lead. It may be comfortable again this weekend
but if we have another 50-0 lead early in the second half, don't slack
off, punish them! Let's have 80 on the board!
On the injury front, Danny
Tickle is expected to be ruled out with a Wrist Injury so Paul Johnson
could be returning (following his suspension) by playing in the Second
Row. Raper's is confident Johnson can do a good job in that position but
I'm sure about him in that role. I suppose we haven't many options left
though with both Mick Cassidy and Andy Farrell still unavailable. The
proof of whether he can do a good job should be in the pudding! We shall
Opposition One to Watch
Another aspect which shows how far Swinton have come recently is
their signing of Kris Tassell, the former Canterbury, North
Queensland, Salford and Wakefield centre. He is a current Welsh
international no less and moved to Swinton when they offered him a
combined job of playing and being part of the clubs commercial
department. He still believes he can play at an higher level
Tassell said: "I think
I still belong in Super League. I have got confidence in my ability
at that level. It's a matter of going out and playing my normal
Tassell will certainly be
one to watch on Sunday. He has a good scoring record at Super League
level with Salford and Wakefield scoring 17 tries in 49 appearances.
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