Swinton Lions’ bid for survival in the Betfred Championship goes to the wire

Swinton Lions face a mammoth challenge in their bid for Championship survival this weekend as one of FOUR sides looking to avoid the drop.

The Greater Manchester club — who face Halifax in their final game — are 13th in the second-tier Championship, locked on 16 points with both Whitehaven and Keighley Cougars.

And incredibly, both Swinton and Keighley are on -323 going into the final round – while 11th-placed Whitehaven have a slim better points difference of just five.

Bottom-placed Newcastle Thunder have already been relegated, with one team to follow them into League 1.

TeamWonLostDrawnPointsPts Diff
10Barrow Raiders817117-188
12Keighley Cougars818016-323
13Swinton Lions818016-323
14Newcastle Thunder520111-489
The Championship relegation scrap as it stands

After a 77th minute drop goal allowed the Lions to snatch two points from relegation rival Whitehaven 21-20 last Sunday, Swinton will be hoping to take the momentum into their fixture at Halifax.

Swinton coach Allan Coleman said: “One thing we can’t do is rest on our laurels, we have to go to Halifax, and in our eyes, we have to win. It’s another cup final.

“We can’t think, ‘Well if we were to get beaten, they’ll do what.’ No, that’s not our mental attitude this week, it’s train hard to win at Halifax, that’s all our focus will be.”

He will be hoping to guide the Lions to safety, after achieving promotion from League 1 last season. The game will also be Coleman’s last in charge of Swinton, as he moves to Widnes Vikings as Head Coach for the 2024 season.

The Lions will have the advantage of knowing the margin of defeat they can afford, as Whitehaven play the day before on Saturday.

The Panthers have plenty to play for too, however. They know that a win would guarantee them a play-off spot and, if results go their way, they could rise to as high as fourth in the table.

Whitehaven welcome Toulouse in their final league game. Although playing a day prior to their relegation competitors, the ‘marras’ could benefit from Toulouse already having secured second place and a home semi-final, perhaps allowing some room for resting players. This squad rotation on the part of the side from south-west France could prove crucial in Whitehaven’s bid to stay in the division.

Keighley Cougars travel to London Broncos in their match this Sunday. The West Yorkshire side will be hoping to avoid relegation, having only been promoted last season. They went unbeaten in League 1 but have struggled this season in a tougher division.

The London Broncos still have plenty to play for as well. A win, coupled with results going their way, mean they would finish fourth and secure a home-tie in the eliminators. This means it will certainly be a tough away-day for the Cougars.

Damage limitation will be a priority for all the sides tied on 16 points, but particularly for the Cougars and Swinton — who are playing at the same time — knowing that survival may rest on points difference. They will be keeping a keen eye on each other’s score lines for this very reason.

Just ahead of these three sides in the table are Barrow Raiders, who have a slender advantage of one point more than their relegation rivals. The Raiders are currently 10th place in the league.

They play York Knights, who themselves have surged into play-off contention with a recent run of good form. The Knights still require a win and results to go their way to make the eliminators, meaning this fixture is far from a dead rubber.

The final round of games this season will be make or break for many sides. All rugby league fans should be primed and ready for a massive weekend with plenty to play for in the Betfred Championship.

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