A couple of vintage touches of class from Tommy Martyn rescued Leigh from possible embarrassment in their first group match of the Arriva Trains Cup.
There was the best part of two divisions between these sides last season, but that gap was never apparent as Swinton made an encouraging start to life at their new home at Sedgeley Park rugby union club.
Leigh might be the logical favourites for both this trophy and promotion to the Super League at the end of the season but they were outplayed during the first half by opponents with more enthusiasm and better organisation.
Swinton should have taken the lead when Paul Ashton missed a penalty awarded for offside early in the game and they also produced the best rugby of the first half-hour when Wayne English caught a towering Martyn kick and sparked a counter-attack, which was only spoiled by Sarvraz Patel's pass into touch.
The Swinton hooker more than made amends by setting up the try that gave them the lead four minutes before half-time. He darted down the right touchline and slipped the ball to Chris Maye, who forced his way over for Ashton to convert.
Leigh showed more urgency after the break. They reclaimed possession straight from their kick-off and put the Lions under pressure that finally paid off when Martyn's delayed pass sent David Larder through a gap to set up Neil Turley's first try.
Another clever ball from Martyn, reminiscent of the way he opened so many doors for St Helens, gave Turley a quick second, with Turley converting both. When Dan Potter dived on a loose ball to stretch Leigh's lead to 10 points, there was a danger of Swinton folding and conceding an avalanche of points in the final quarter.
But their coach, the recently appointed 28-year-old Paul Kidd, was delighted to see his team dig deep and prevent that happening. In fact, they played some of their best rugby and could easily have put further points on the board themselves.
Not even a late try from Andrew Isherwood, from Turley's pass, could spoil the impression that Swinton have something to work with.
"That's our benchmark for the season,'' Kidd said. "Our target now is to improve on that." Abram admitted that Leigh will have to improve: "We've got to build gradually. If we were at our best now, there would be something wrong."
Swinton: English; Roach, Maye, Llewellyn, Irwin; Ayres, Ashton; Liku, Patel, Rogers, Smith, Sinfield, Hodson. Substitutes: Thorpe, Wingfield, Loughlin, Heaton.
Leigh: Turley; Maden, Potter, Percival, Munro; Duffy, Martyn; Cruckshank, McConnell, Bradbury, Larder, Wilkes, Knott. Substitutes: Coates, Isherwood, Knoxx, Marshall.
Referee: P Taberner (Wigan).
* The Great Britain forward Adrian Morley has escaped a playing ban following his conviction for drink-driving last year. The 26-year-old former Leeds second row was banned from driving and ordered to serve 40 hours' community service in December.
The incident was highly embarrassing for the Rugby Football League - coming less than a month after Great Britain's Test series against Australia, which was sponsored by the Government's Think! Road Safety campaign.
An RFL investigation into Morley's conduct decided not to take the matter further. Morley, who now plays for Sydney Roosters, has apologised and agreed to donate £500 to the Rugby League Foundation for the development of the game among young people.Reuse content