In the latest of our new preview series for the 2022 season, Getting To Know, Josh takes an in-depth look at visitors to Cougar Park this Sunday, the Swinton Lions.
2022 SEASON SO FAR
Following relegation from the Championship, the Lions acted quickly to keep the nucleus of their squad together to begin the push for an immediate return.
On the field, the club had five runouts in terms of three friendlies and the Second and Third Round of the Betfred Challenge Cup.
Their pre-season began with a 48-12 defeat away at local rivals, Betfred Super League club Salford Red Devils, but backed it up the following week with a 28-22 home victory against Championship side Whitehaven.
A professional yet routine 96-0 away victory against the troubled West Wales Raiders in the Challenge Cup secured a comfortable passage to the next stage of the competition, Dan Abram marking his debut for the club with 36 points personally.
However, despite coming from behind twice and taking the lead midway through the second, their road to Tottenham was ended at the Third Round with a 20-14 home defeat to League One promotion rivals North Wales Crusaders.
Two late tries from the visitors would be enough to seal a memorable victory for the Colwyn Bay side and eliminate Swinton from the competition.
The club then suffered a further blow as forward Will Hope announced his retirement from the sport due to work commitments after successfully applying to join the Greater Manchester Fire Service.
However, they finished their pre-season in style with a comprehensive away victory over the Cougars before beginning their League 1 campaign a fortnight later with another thrasing of West Wales.
Things appeared to be firing on all cylinders for the Lions as they continued to both win and score points at a canter, following their 82 against West Wales up with 54 against Midlands Hurricanes and 64 against Doncaster.
But the scurge of the Crusaders would find them in the league as well as the cup as they were defeated 6-13 last time out to inflict their first loss of the new season.
Now into his first full season as Head Coach of the Lions, Allan Coleman is tasked with masterminding the clubs immediate return to the Championship.
Replacing now Oldham coach Stuart Littler at Heywood Road midway through last season, relegation was all but confirmed allowing Coleman to implement his own stamp on the club and side immediately.
Beginning his coaching career in the community game, Allan had a highly successful period in charge of the Leigh Miners Rangers and enjoyed success as the coach of the England Community Lions.
Moving into the professional game ahead of the 2019 season, he initially joined the Lions as Assistant Coach to Stuart Littler.
The Lions defied expectations that season, securing a comfortable midtable finish in a year that saw them pick up memorable results throughout such as an away victory at promotion chasing Toulouse Olympique.
After the pandemic cancelled the 2020 season, the 2021 season proved to be a troublesome one for Swinton as the club would lose 14 consecutive games at the start of the Championship season.
During this run, Littler departed the club and Allan stepped into the fold initially as caretaker coach.
But after masterminding the clubs first win of the year against Dewsbury, and following it up with a draw against Oldham, the decision was taken by the Lions board to appoint him as permanent coach on a contract until the end of this season.
And after keeping the nucleus of his squad together for the League One campaign, a solid start to 2022 at writing suggests one of the professional games youngest coaches has a bright future ahead of him.
2022 SQUAD NUMBERS: 1 – Dan Abram; 2 – Mike Butt; 3 – Liam Forsyth; 4 – Max Roberts; 5 – Richard Lepori; 6 – Lewis Else; 7 – Jack Hansen; 9 – Luke Waterworth; 10 – Lewis Hatton; 11 – Rhodri Lloyd; 12 – Mitch Cox; 13 – Nick Gregson; 14 – Matty Wilkinson; 15 – Billy Brickhill; 16 – Louis Brogan; 17 – Jack Spencer; 18 – Paddy Jones; 19 – Jose Kenga; 20 – Deane Meadows; 22 – Ben Heyes; 23 – Jordan Case; 24 – Jordan Brown; 25 – Lewis Charnock; 28 – Jayden Hatton; 30 – Owain Abel; TBC – Kieran Rush
RETAINED FROM 2021: Billy Brickhill; Louis Brogan; Jordan Brown; Mike Butt; Mitch Cox; Liam Forsyth; Nick Gregson; Jack Hansen; Lewis Hatton; Ben Heyes; Paddy Jones; Jose Kenga; Richard Lepori; Rhodri Lloyd; Deane Meadows; Luke Waterworth
TRANSFERS IN: Max Roberts (Oldham RLFC); Matty Wilkinson (Oldham RLFC); Dan Abram (Oldham RLFC); Jack Spencer (Oldham RLFC); Lewis Else (Widnes Vikings); Jordan Case (Widnes Vikings); Lewis Charnock (Oldham RLFC); Jayden Hatton (Leigh Centurions)
LOANS IN: Owain Abel (Pilkington Recs); Kieran Rush (Huddersfield Giants)
TRANSFERS OUT: Luis Roberts (Leigh Centurions); Geronimo Doyle (Whitehaven); Sam Brooks (Barrow Raiders); Martyn Ridyard (Oldham RLFC); Paul Nash (North Wales Crusaders); Cobi Green (Rochdale Hornets); Reece Hamlett (Rochdale Mayfield); Will Hope (Work Commitments); Dan Clare (Released); Tayler Brown (Retired)
ONE TO WATCH
Leading by example, the Swinton captain Rhodri Lloyd continues to excel in Lions colours as he enters his seventh season with the club.
Initially joining Swinton on dual registration from Wigan during their 2015 promotion winning season and made the deal permanent ahead of their return to the Championship.
Playing either in the backrow or the centres, Rhodri is a popular figure both on and off the field at Heywood Road and will be looking to finish this season with silverware in his hand.
The Welsh international, who will be looking to feature for his country in a third consecutive World Cup this year, came through the ranks at the South Wales Scorpions and impressed enough to earn a move to the Warriors.
Debuting in the Super League in 2012, a number of loan and dual-registration moves would follow before he landed at Swinton during the 2015 season.
Scoring 9 tries in 12 appearances to help the club secure promotion from League 1, Lloyd would sign for the club permanently that winter.
And over the years, the Welshman would become a mainstay in the Swinton side as he helped them maintain their Championship status for six seasons whilst wining plenty of plaudits along the way.
To date, Rhodri has made 147 appearances for the club and has scored 48 tries during this time.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS (LAST FIVE MEETINGS ONLY)
13th March 2022: Keighley Cougars 22-42 Swinton Lions
4th October 2015: Keighley Cougars 28-29 Swinton Lions
19th July 2015: Keighley Cougars 14-22 Swinton Lions
17th May 2015: Swinton Lions 29-16 Keighley Cougars
15th March 2015: Keighley Cougars 22-24 Swinton Lions
By Joshua Chapman