Swinton Lions had head coach John Duffy reaching for the heart pills with a scintillating 18-17 victory over York Knights that sees them safely through to the Championship One Grand Final next weekend.
It was touch and go for a time as the Lions fell behind to four unaswered tries after Chris Atkin put Swinton ahead on 10 minutes.
The Knights swept through Swinton’s defence time and again, with Pat Smith, Kriss Brinning and Greg Minikin all touching down in the first half.
After the break Jonny Presley sank Swinton hearts with a fourth, before sub Connor Dwyer and Mike Butt injected some hope back into the Lions’ play off dreams.
Standing 17-17 at the final hooter, it would be down to hero Chris Atkin to kick the winning drop goal in the third minute of golden-point extra time.
After the match Duffy said: “We let ourselves down at points in the first half where we could have scored, but the final pass was not sticking or we chose the wrong option.
“It was much better in the second and we fought back right at the end.
” I spoke to the lads and asked them how much they wanted it and it was like a fresh team that kicked off for those final few minutes.”
It’s been a stunning season for Swinton Lions, all told.
The club has added further strength at half-back with the capture of 24-year-old Matt Bradley from the University of Gloucestershire All Golds, while talismanic ex-Salford man Stuart Littler has signed for another season.
The addition of the 6ft 3in, 15-stone centre Greg Wilde which is also turning heads; described as a strong runner with a good rugby brain, it’s hoped he’ll put paid to any accusations that Swinton cannot play hard rugby when required.
Now the team look to the tense final play-off against Keighley Cougars – who they face for the fifth time this season – as they look for promotion back to the Championship.