Rugby League: Watson sweeps on Swinton

Swinton 41 Keighley 16
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The final score might look lop-sided, but if the First Division can serve up entertainment of this calibre on a regular basis it will not be short of friends during its new season.

Unlike Keighley, nobody has mentioned Swinton as candidates for the title, but they played some superb attacking rugby at Gigg Lane yesterday. Sometimes a team is clearly cast in the mould of its coach and the enterprising way they kept the ball alive had Les Holliday engraved all over it.

It helps, of course, when you have players of genuine quality to put your ideas into practice and, in the likes of Ian Watson, Swinton certainly have that.

A regular for their Super League neighbours, Salford, last year, Watson looked an outstanding scrum-half in this slightly less rapid grade of rugby. Along with his half-back partner, Steve Gartland, and the loose- forward Sean Casey, Watson was involved in everything as Swinton linked fluently to build a 26-10 lead early in the second half.

But a Keighley team weakened by injuries and a flu epidemic during the week refused to give the game away. A second try from their speedy winger Marlon Billy and a penalty from Chris Robinson brought them back to within 10 points and if Phil Stephenson had not lost the ball stretching over the try-line they would have been closer still.

Swinton were still a potent threat, however, and it took two magnificent tackles from Matt Foster to stop them sealing their victory. They did so when their substitute, Gareth Adams, took Paul Barrow's pass to go over.

As Keighley tired, the home side raced away with Watson's third drop goal, a try by Tommy Hodgkinson and Gartland's seventh goal.

Swinton: Welsby; Ashcroft, Veikoso, Evans, Price-Jones; Gartland, Watson; Knowles, Cannon, T Barrow, Coley, P Barrow, Casey. Substitutes used: Hodgkinson, Craig, Adams, Rogers.

Keighley: Foster; Wray, McDonald, Irving, Billy; Owen, Robinson; Stephenson, Ramshaw, Senior, Cain, Larder, Summerill. Substitutes used: Smith, Shackleton, Walsh. Substitute not used: Edwards.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).