1895 Cup Playoff - Sheffield vs Whitehaven Preview
Sheffield Eagles will be aiming for a spot in the 1895 Cup semi-finals on Saturday when Mark Aston’s men host fellow Championship opposition Whitehaven.
Sheffield come into Saturday’s contest following a defeat to league leaders Featherstone Rovers at The Millennium Stadium.
The Eagles' most recent loss follows their exit in the Challenge Cup at the hands of Hull FC.
Last Time Out
Sheffield improved in the second half of last weekend’s contest after they initially trailed 26-4 at half-time.
Joey Leilua, Luke Briscoe and Ryley Jacks gave Featherstone an 18-0 lead before Ben Jones-Bishop muscled over for the Eagles’ first score of the match.
Briscoe added his second four minutes later before Craig Hall converted his own score.
Sheffield responded two minutes into the second half through Blake Broadbent following a short ball from Vila Halafihi.
Martyn Reilly followed Broadbent’s score up with a try five minutes later.
Matty Wildie’s effort settled the nerves of the Featherstone faithful following a slow start to the half for the hosts.
Connor Bower scored his first try in Red and Gold as Sheffield continued their spirited fightback but they didn’t have an answer for the Rovers’ final two tries of the game.
Morgan Smith and Briscoe both touched down to seal victory for the table-toppers.
Last year's Championship surprise package, Whitehaven, have started 2022 with a drop-off from their successes of last season.
Key departures included Louis Jouffret and Lachlan Walmsley who both joined Halifax Panthers.
Haven have enjoyed league victories over London Broncos and Dewsbury and saw off Doncaster and York City Knights to earn a spot in the 1895 cup.
Today’s visitors' most recent fixture saw them surrender a half-time lead away at The Shay in Halifax.
Ryan King put the Marras in front before a quick-fire double from Fax’s Joe Keyes and Joe Arundel.
A Nikau Williams brace, either side of a Dave Eccleston try, gave the visitors a healthy 10-24 lead at the break.
Simon Grix’s choice of words at the interval worked a treat as Haven were kept scoreless for the final 40 minutes as Halifax ran in six tries to earn a comfortable win.
Ben Kavanagh, Keyes, Titus Gwaze, Ed Barber, Walmsley and Brandon Moore were the second half try-scorers for the Panthers.
Key Battle - Connor Bower | Ryan King
This weekend’s key battle selection is between the second rowers Connor Bower and Ryan King.
Sheffield’s Bower has been deployed in the forwards this season, following the arrival of centres Ross Oakes and Kris Welham from Bradford and Featherstone respectively.
Last time out the former Doncaster man was handed a starting role after youngster Ryan Johnson was given the task of keeping former NRL Joey Leilua quiet.
Joel Farrell has been named in the Eagles' 21 man squad which could cause a headache for Sheffield’s Director of Rugby following an impressive second-half showing from ex-Hull junior Bower against Featherstone.
He produced a great offload to assist Reilly’s try before going over for his first four-pointer in Sheffield colours in the 66th minute.
Whitehaven forward Ryan King will be crucial to any success Whitehaven have on Saturday.
The 24-year-old, former Cronulla Sharks man, impressed during his debut season in the UK last year.
Another strong season from the Australian-born forward could earn King a spot in Italy's World Cup squad at the end of the season.
Tickets are available for tomorrow's game, with tickets priced at £10 for adults, £5 for concessions and £1 for juniors. Buy yours here.
By Lewis Coleman, graphic by Alex Coleman