Sheffield Eagles v Rochdale Hornets
Sunday 30th September 2018, 15:00pm
Super 8s - Round: 7
Stats over last 8 encounters
Sheffield Eagles face Rochdale Hornets on Sunday in the final round of the Betfred Championship Shield.
It has been a poor Shield campaign for the Eagles, who have just one win to their name from six games played.
Meanwhile, Rochdale are in the midst of a relegation dogfight with Swinton Lions. Both sides are on the same amount of points (10) going into the last match.
The Hornets need to beat Sheffield and hope Swinton lose at Batley for their Championship status to be retained.
Defeat to the Eagles wouldn’t mean instant relegation for Rochdale as they will have one final game to save their skin.
They will face the loser of the League 1 Promotional Final in a Million Pound-esque match to decide who will ply their trade in the Championship in 2019.
Expect Rochdale to come out of the blocks all guns blazing at the weekend as Alan Kilshaw will have his troops fired up.
Last Time Out
Sheffield were beaten 24-22 by Barrow Raiders at the Olympic Legacy Park.
The Raiders claimed victory thanks to a converted Ryan Burroughs try with two minutes remaining, after Sheffield had gone ahead courtesy of scores from Joshua Toole and Mark Offerdahl in the final quarter.
Greg Burns broke the deadlock for the Eagles after 22 minutes before a Brett Carter double put Barrow in front.
Nothing could separate the two sides at the interval as Toole touched down for his first of the afternoon.
A Jamie Dallimore penalty edged Barrow back into the lead after the restart, and the half-back came to the fore for his side’s third try of the game.
Dallimore slid a reverse grubber into the in-goal area and Ryan Fieldhouse read it like a book and applied the finishing touch. The former converted for a two-score lead.
However, Sheffield responded with two tries in ten minutes as the South Yorkshire side looked like they were going to stop their three-game losing streak.
Toole and Offerdahl both crossed the whitewash but the Eagles’ joy was short-lived as Burroughs equalised in the dying embers. Dallimore added on the two points that proved to be the difference.
Rochdale Hornets handed themselves a lifeline by beating Dewsbury Rams 26-22 at the Crown Oil Arena.
The Hornets were 20-10 up at the break and managed to hold on at the end despite tries from Rob Worrincy and Brad Delaney ramping up the tension.
Michael Knowles got the Rams off the mark in the fourth minute before Delaney crossed soon after.
However, four consecutive Rochdale tries gave the hosts a massive boost going into the break.
Seta Tala and Dec Gregory both touched down, either side of a Deon Cross brace. Tyler Whittaker added a penalty goal to extend the Hornets’ advantage.
After the restart, Alan Kilshaw’s men kept their foot on the gas and got another four-pointer through Lewis Hatton.
Dewsbury started to come back to life as the game went on. Worrincy and Delaney’s tries cut the deficit to four points but the Hornets had enough in the tank to keep the spoils.
As is the case in every match, a strong kicking game is absolutely vital to any chances of victory.
Unfortunately for Sheffield, they haven’t been able to control games too well when they have had their noses in front.
They will have good memories of Rochdale, though, after beating them twice in the regular season and now they are aiming for the hat-trick to condemn the Hornets to the bottom of the Championship Shield.
Simon Brown and Cory Aston were the halves for the Eagles against Barrow, in a topsy-turvy encounter that ended up going the way of the Raiders.
If the half-back pair can take the game by the scruff of the neck, depending on how the forward pack in front of them performs, then the Eagles will be in a great position.
It’s never that simple though, is it? Rochdale finally got off the mark in the Shield last weekend and their confidence will be sky high, especially when you consider the Eagles’ recent form.
Batley-bound Danny Yates and Tyler Whittaker were the half-backs for Rochdale in their victory over Dewsbury.
Yates is a live-wire and it’s not a surprise to learn that he will be plying his trade in the Championship next season, irrespective of what Rochdale do.
Whittaker signed a permanent deal with the Hornets in May after impressing on trial. The youngster will be gearing up for a big performance once again on Sunday, as the Hornets attempt to steer away from the playoff final against the League 1 Promotional Final losers.
Mark Aston gave his thoughts ahead of the final game of the year, saying: “We are looking for a spark, we have talked about personal pride, tried keeping it fun but we haven’t had a response,”
“Again we’ll keep trying to come up with different things to get a bit of inspiration but fingers crossed we’ll have Matt James back to help us finish the season correctly.
“It’s important to get the fans behind the people who have been good for us, the likes of Matty Fozard, Mark Offerdahl, Simon Brown.
“It’s sad for those who are leaving but what I would like is to send the guys off with a positive performance.
“But there is no two ways about it, Rochdale are in with a chance of survival so they’re going to come with a bang and we have to be ready for that.”
By Dan Fowler