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Aston on Batley postponement and start of Challenge Cup campaign

25/02/2022

After a week without a game, Sheffield Eagles are ready to get back to business according to Director of Rugby Mark Aston. 

The Eagles’ trip to Batley was postponed two days before the match was supposed to take place, with Storm Eunice wreaking havoc on the rugby league calendar and the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium turf. 

“We were obviously disappointed after the defeat to Dewsbury so we wanted to get right back into it,” Aston reflected on the Eagles’ league form. 

“We had a good week’s preparation, the boys were ready to go into the challenge against a very good Batley team. It was frustrating, especially after the last couple of years with missing games due to COVID. 

“You want the momentum and consistency of playing games every week, obviously it wasn’t to be as the storms we had were horrendous and the match was called off quite early. 

“That meant we could cancel the training on Friday and not put the pressure on the lads to travel here, they had a weekend away from the club so they could do work on their own. 

“We used it to our benefit and it could have been a lot worse, see Halifax travelling up to Workington and having the game called off when they were in Cumbria. 

“I wouldn’t have been too happy if that happened to us!”

Aston has been happy with the attitude of the squad, despite only registering one win from their opening three Betfred Championship fixtures. 

He added: “We’re sat one out of three in the league and it could easily have been three out of three,” 

“The work ethic isn’t far off where we need it to be so I’m not going to knock them. 

“It’s a fine line and against Dewsbury, we found out how fine that line really is. 

“We’re ready, we trained as usual during the week and we’ll probably be changing things up a bit this weekend to keep things fresh. 

“It gives someone else an opportunity to stake a claim for a shirt. 

“The Challenge Cup is an exciting time but it is a coach’s nightmare when you’re playing against amateur teams that they’re strong already.” 

The Eagles’ attention has turned to Hunslet Club Parkside, a National Conference League club who are enjoying a wonderful spell in the Challenge Cup and will be eyeing an upset. 

"We’ll be playing against a very strong Hunslet side, who are coached by Paul McShane - one of the smartest footballers in the professional game,” Aston said. 

“He has his brothers playing for them, who certainly know how to play too. We have to be clinical against them. 

“I watched the game against Skolars, they’re a big strong set with plenty of energy. They beat them very comfortably. We have to focus on what we want to do but also be respectful to them.”

By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman