2nd March 2019, 06:55
Eagles rally to ease past Bulldogs
Sheffield Eagles maintained their 100% start to the 2019 Championship campaign with a 44-16 victory over Batley Bulldogs.
The Eagles were on the back foot in the early going thanks to tries from Batley pair Sam Wood and Jack Downs but Mark Aston’s men responded brilliantly.
James Glover and Anthony Thackeray both notched converted tries before the break as Sheffield headed to the sheds 12-10 up.
In the second period, the hosts outscored Batley six tries to one; romping home and to the top of the Championship table.
After having a week off due to Widnes’ off-field struggles, the Eagles made one change to the team that beat Bradford Bulls last time out.
James Davey replaced fellow dummy-half Greg Burns to start against his former side.
The Bulldogs asserted their authority right from the off and they broke the deadlock on three minutes as Wood powered over. Dave Scott could not convert, but soon made amends by tagging a penalty goal on for 0-6.
It was a fiery opening quarter and yellow cards were given to Dane Manning and Bradley Knowles for a fracas in the Eagles half.
With both sides down to 12 men, Batley adapted the better and extended their advantage through Downs as he latched on to a Wood kick. Scott again was off target with the conversion.
Sheffield needed to find a response and they got just that eight minutes before the break when Glover touched down. Pat Walker converted.
Despite not really partaking in proceedings for most of the half, the Eagles ended up in front when Thackeray dummied his way over and Walker tagged on the goal.
The second half was a completely different story as five tries in just under 20-minutes saw Sheffield seal victory and play some champagne rugby in the process.
It all started from an unlikely source, or at least unlikely to follow up a kick from 20 metres out.
Blackmore found his way down the wing and booted forward, only for Broadbent to show great speed to get to the ball first. Walker converted for a two-score lead.
Former Batley forward Joel Farrell had copped some high shots from his former employers throughout the contest but he silenced them in the perfect way, by scoring his fourth Eagles try in as many games.
It was a typical ‘Faz’ effort, steaming through the defence from ten metres out. Walker converted.
The next set after Farrell’s try saw the Jamaican international sustain another high shot and Manning was sent for his second trip to the Kinspeed sin-bin.
Oliver Davies was next over the whitewash as the hour mark approached. The Bulldogs defence was parting rapidly and Sheffield were not going to take their foot off the gas. Walker added the goal.
A quick-fire brace from Blackmore rubbed more salt into the Bulldogs wounds as the game entered its final stages.
Ex-Eagle Sam Smeaton scored what many thought would be the final try of the contest on 79 minutes. Scott converted.
However, Sheffield’s kick-off bounced everywhere before landing in the Bulldogs in-goal area with nobody in sight.
Paddy Burns strolled to the whitewash and applied the finishing touch. Walker goaled for the final points of the night.
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman