Betfred Championship R14: Newcastle vs Sheffield Preview
A quick turnaround for the Championship teams gives Sheffield Eagles a perfect opportunity to bounce back following a loss to York City Knights on Jubilee Thursday.
Their latest test comes against full-timers Newcastle Thunder at Kingston Park - a team the Eagles beat earlier in the season at Featherstone’s Millennium Stadium.
The Thunder, currently under the stewardship of Eamon O’Carroll, lost to the high-flying Featherstone Rovers in round 13.
Last Time Out
Newcastle welcomed Featherstone to the North East and gave the Rovers a run for their money in the first half, with the hosts only two points down.
Fev got the scoring underway courtesy of Joey Leilua, followed by Matty Wildie, as the West Yorkshire outfit got an early 0-12 lead.
Thunder didn’t lie down though and fired back with two tries of their own as Alex Donaghy and Ellis Robson touched down. One conversion from two attempts saw Newcastle go into the sheds behind, but in good spirits.
Half-back partners Ryley Jacks and Morgan Smith got on the scoresheet for Featherstone, who stretched their lead to 12 points at 10-22.
Jack Bussey was next over the whitewash before Smith completed his hat-trick with two more efforts. Jacks and Craig Hall crossed inside the final ten minutes to finish proceedings in style - Rovers running out 10-46 winners.
Sheffield were on the receiving end of a 14-34 scoreline as York kept their grip on a safe playoff position.
Similar to Thunder against Featherstone, a promising first half gave hope to the Eagles but the Knights really muscled up down the middle of the park and reaped the rewards after the break.
Kris Welham put the Eagles ahead on ten minutes but York responded with tries from James Glover and Bailey Antrobus.
With both sides down to 12 men, Sheffield coped the better and scored their second and third tries of the afternoon in the latter stages of the first half.
Unfortunately, the four-pointers from Anthony Thackeray and Ben Jones-Bishop would prove to be the hosts’ last of the match. A lone Izaac Farrell conversion handed Sheffield a 14-12 lead.
Four second half tries for York, while keeping the Eagles scoreless, turned the game completely on its head as the visitors built an insurmountable advantage.
Ronan Dixon and Pauli Pauli touched down for the Knights before Marcus Stock scored a quick-fire double.
Key Battle - Brad Day | Connor Bower
A big contest on Sunday will be in the forwards and we have chosen two second-rowers for this weekend - one with quite a bit more experience than the other.
Brad Day has been an impressive figure in Championship rugby for a number of years, firstly with Batley before moving to Featherstone and now in the North East.
Meanwhile, Connor Bower was signed as a centre in 2021 but finds himself having game-time in the back-row.
The former Hull and Doncaster man has been consistent in his rather new position and he’ll be wanting to put in another good showing on Sunday against a full-time side in Thunder.
By Dan Fowler, graphic by Alex Coleman