Swinton Lions triumphed 30 points to 20 in a must-win game against Barrow Raiders who had put 50 points past them earlier this season.
It was manna from heaven for head coach John Duffy, who was furious after two losses on the bounce in winnable games against Rochdale and York Knights.
A huge thunderstorm which broke out 10 minutes into the match sent the crowd scattering for cover, but didn’t dissuade this keenly-fought contest from continuing.
Rob Lever starred for Swinton with two huge hits in particular, each leading to Barrow spilling the ball and a clinical Swinton capitalising with scores each time.
Raiders took the lead on 16 minutes when Liam Harrison broke away to send Ward in for the try by the posts, but the best try of the match came for Swinton just three minutes later when Rob Lever put a huge hit on a Barrow attacker on halfway and he lost the ball, and from the scrum the ball moved quickly right and Shaun Robinson raced away up the right to score in the corner.
Ben White put the Lions ahead on the half hour when he showed a clean pair of heels from 30 metres out and scored by the posts with Mort adding the simple conversion. Connor Dwyer should have increased the Lions lead seven minutes later when Mick Govin put him in the clear near the line but he lost control of the ball.
I am not sure what Paul Crarey said to his side during the break but it worked as Craig Briscoe scored on the right just after the restart and Ward added the conversion to put his side back in the lead. On 53 minutes Hankinson put in a nice inside kick and full back Chris Fleming scored to the right of the posts with Ward again converting. Ward increased the Raiders’ lead four minutes later when he kicked a simple penalty goal for a punch in the tackle right in front of the posts and the visitors were on top playing some good rugby.
The Lions fought back and White was grounded just 10 metres short of the line but on the hour Govin made a good break and the supporting Chris Rothwell raced away to score and Mort added the conversion points.
The home side took the lead again on 69 minutes following another massive hit by Lever who again made his opposite player lose the ball and from the pressure Tommy Gallagher went over by the posts. Mort converted again give his side a slim lead.
Andy Thornley found his way over the line with the ball with eight minutes left but the try was cancelled out even though the Lions had the feed at the scrum.
Lupton was sent to the sin bin with six minutes left when he lifted Richie Hawkyard too high in the tackle and from the penalty pressure Gallagher crashed over again on the left but Mort was unable to convert.
There was still time left for the Raiders to launch an attack but the Lions defence was holding well as the clock ticked down and in the final minute James scored near the left corner. The final hooter sounded with Barrow licking their wounds and a triumphant Swinton coach John Duffy delighted.
He said: “Today was a very good performance by the whole side. They played the game to the right tempo to take the win against a very good and well coached Barrow side, which puts us back in the mix.”