Swinton's optimism a thing of the past

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The Independent Online
Swinton 12 Keighley 34

Early-season disillusionment and dislocation are not unique to Super League, as the sad case of Swinton illustrates, writes Dave Hadfield.

Promoted from last year's Second Division and, on paper at least, considerably strengthened for this campaign, the Lions started the season with plenty of optimism.

But, two days after sacking their coach, Peter Roe, this defeat leaves them adrift at the foot of the table.

Keighley, another of Roe's previous clubs, have had a slow start themselves, but at Gigg Lane yesterday they were able to capitalise on elementary mistakes to record a convincing win.

Swinton took the lead after only eight minutes, just about their best move of the match seeing Sean Casey and Martin Birkett link up to send Mark Welsby over.

But then Swinton's inadequacies around the play-the-ball began to catch them out. Keighley's Jason Ramshaw spotted a gap from dummy-half and darted over for a soft four points, giving the Cougars a 12-8 advantage at the break.

The second half was virtually all Keighley, with Sonny Whakarau sending in the Great Britain tour winger Jason Critchley, and St John Ellis then set up David Larder for their fourth try.

The only bright moments for a lethargic Swinton came when their substitute, the veteran Steve Gibson, rounded off a long break.

The Keighley captain, Simon Irving, soon stamped on any Swinton aspiration to respectability, scoring two late tries.

The crowd would have been calling for the coach to be sacked, had Swinton not already done so. Whoever takes over clearly has a major job to do.

Swinton: Welsby; Ashcroft, Birkett, Craig, Price-Jones; Longo, Riley; L Casey, McCabe, Barrow, Pearce, Coley, S Casey. Substitutes used: Sheals, Armstrong, Evans, Gibson.

Keighley: Ellis; Wray, Foster, Irving, Critchley; Powell, Robinson; Filipo, Ramshaw, Doorey, Fleary, Whakarau, Larder. Substitutes used: Dixon, Tawhai, Cantillon, Gately.

Referee: N Oddy (Halifax).