Sheffield Eagles 38-20 Rochdale Hornets
Friday 30th March 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 8
Shaun Pick, Ryan Millar, Garry Lo 2, Daniel Igbinedion, Oscar Thomas, Matty Fozard,
Oscar Thomas 4, Simon Brown,
Danny Yates, Rob Massam, Ben Moores, Deon Lewis Cross,
Lewis Palfrey 2,
Sheffield Eagles picked up their first win of the Betfred Championship season with an accomplished 38-20 victory over Rochdale Hornets.
Mark Aston’s men enjoyed their second runout at the Olympic Legacy Park, with Garry Lo notching a brace while Simon Brown and Oscar Thomas looked comfortable in the halves.
Solid defence in the second period paved the way for Sheffield’s opening league triumph as they maintained a two-score half-time lead.
St Helens’ full-back Matty Costello was drafted into the side by coach Aston while French forward Max Garcia made his debut.
It took just one minute for the Eagles to strike. Lewis Palfrey knocked on from kick-off and gave Sheffield an opportunity to get on the scoreboard, and they did just that.
Former Toronto back-rower Shaun Pick powered over from close range, with Thomas converting.
The hosts nearly added to their early score on two separate occasions as Nabil Djalout came to the forefront of the attack.
Djalout couldn’t get on the end of a Brown kick which had been diverted by a Rochdale hand. The next set saw the French centre bust through the defence before fumbling close to the line.
Rochdale survived and their first real attack, on 17 minutes, brought points. A break from deep was supported by Danny Yates, who had too much pace for the Eagles. Palfrey converted.
Wingers Ryan Millar and Rob Massam soon exchanged tries for Sheffield and Rochdale respectively, but the Eagles had a two-point advantage thanks to Thomas’ conversion while Palfrey was off target.
The Hornets took the lead after half-an-hour when Ben Moores exploited poor ruck defence by touching down from dummy-half. Palfrey goaled for 12-16.
But the Eagles’ heads didn’t go down and they scored three tries in the final nine minutes to go into half-time 28-16 up.
Lo, Daniel Igbinedion and Thomas all registered four-pointers to give the South Yorkshire a club some much needed breathing space.
Defences were on top for most of the second half as Rochdale tried their best to get back into the contest.
Ten minutes into the second half, the Hornets got over the try-line but the touch judge deemed the attacker to be in touch.
As the rain started to pour down at the Olympic Legacy Park, any attacking fluency went out of the window.
But it was a piece of a magic from Moores to find Deon Cross which broke the deadlock in the second half. Cross hit a great line and touched down to narrow the gap to eight points.
Fortunately for Sheffield, Palfrey couldn’t convert and the two-score lead remained.
The Eagles put the game beyond doubt five minutes from time when Brown kicked a remarkable 40/20, capitalised on by Matty Fozard who took a quick tap, beat his defender and touched down. Brown converted.
The hosts weren’t finished there, though. A Greg Burns ball-steal on halfway took the wind out of Rochdale’s sails and the next play saw Lo steam down the wing to complete his brace. Thomas couldn’t convert.
Aston’s men will be hoping for a replica performance on Easter Monday when they entertain Batley Bulldogs at the Olympic Legacy Park.