SWINTON Lions got off to a losing start when their Rugby League Championship season opened at Toulouse Olympique on Saturday.

The Sale-based side trailed 16-0 after just 17 minutes but, urged on by their sizeable and vociferous following, the visitors stormed back into the game.

A converted touch-down from prop Kyle Shelford was the result of a Danny Ansell grubber-kick, then winger Mike Butt added another in the right corner to bring the score back to 16-10 on the half-hour mark.

After the sides then traded an unimproved try for a penalty, the Lions found themselves 20-12 down at half time, but still in the game.

A penalty early in the second half by centre Chris Hankinson reduced the arrears further to just six points, leaving the Lions just a converted try away from levelling matters.

But the turning point came after 65 minutes when, following a third set of six tackles camped on the Toulouse line, a loose pass by Hankinson led to a sickening interception try for the French hosts.

From there on head coach Stuart Littler could not have been impressed at the way the Lions fell away in the closing stages. They conceded a further four tries in the last seven minutes to hand Toulouse a flattering 46-14 victory.

Littler said: “We are very disappointed at how the game ended.

"Some of our players up to the last quarter of an hour had put in massive effort and we shouldn’t have suffered that scoreline.”

Next up for the Lions is a crucial match at Heywood Road against Rochdale Hornets on Sunday, kick off 3pm.