Betfred Championship R15: Sheffield vs Bradford Preview
Sheffield Eagles will be searching for back-to-back league victories on Sunday afternoon when Bradford Bulls visit the Olympic Legacy Park.
Sheffield come into the contest following an away victory over Newcastle Thunder and will be hoping to secure a third win in four.
The Eagles enjoyed a homecoming victory over Widnes Vikings before experiencing both a loss and a win in the Jubilee Weekend matches against York City Knights and Newcastle respectively.
Sheffield Eagles Director of Rugby Mark Aston described the first half effort against Thunder as “near perfect”, the Eagles entering the sheds with a 6-22 lead at half time on Sunday.
Anthony Thackeray’s opening try in the 11th minute was later added to by scores from Josh Guzdek, Thackeray again and an acrobatic effort from Matty Chrimes.
The only slant on the first half performance was a try for the full-timers three minutes before the break when Josh Woods’ trickery allowed him to touch down underneath the sticks.
Riley Dean’s try five minutes after half time gave Newcastle hope of a comeback before Izaac Farrell’s eight point swing settled a few Sheffield nerves.
The stand-off kicked a penalty goal before his converted try on 61 minutes.
The hosts refused to go away and scored their third and final try of the contest through centre Sam Halsall.
It was the Eagles and Thackeray who had the final say in the game, with the half-back knocking over a scruffy drop-goal to extend the visitors’ lead out to three scores with four minutes remaining.
Sunday’s visitors Bradford had to endure a tough evening in front of the Premier Sports cameras on Monday night as Featherstone climbed back to the top of the Championship table with a 58-12 victory.
The Rovers showcased their dominance over Bradford in both halves of the game and ran in 30 of their 58 points within the first 40 minutes.
Jack Bussey broke the deadlock after 13 minutes, he added a second later in the half along with scores from Joey Leulua, Ryley Jacks and Ben Hellewell. George Flanagan scored Bradford’s only try of the first half.
Connor Jones and Jacks added further Rovers four-pointers before Thomas Doyle went over for Bradford.
In the final quarter John Davies, Leilua and Morgan Smith added Rovers’ eight, ninth and tenth tries - all converted by full-back Mark Kheirallah.
Key Battle: Kris Welham | Kieran Gill
This weekend’s key battle selection is between centres Kris Welham and Kieran Gill.
The Eagles are set to be without Josh Guzdek who picked up a shoulder injury in the win over Newcastle last time out.
Naturally a full-back Guzdek has featured at centre in recent weeks, with Sheffield legend and current loanee Quenin Laulu-Togaga’e expected to continue at in the number one spot for his 200th game for the club.
Welham could return to face his former side this weekend after he was kept risk free from injury in the win over Newcastle. Young gun Ryan Johnson replaced the former Hull KR man.
Ross Oakes is another potential player for the centre position. Another former Bull within the Eagles ranks, Oakes impressed in the second-row along with natural centre Connor Bower last time out.
Whoever is selected at centre, one of them will have to deal with Bradford star-man Kieran Gill.
The 26-year-old former Castleford Tigers junior has started well in his return to West Yorkshire after arriving in the offseason from Newcastle Thunder.
The centre has notched nine tries, including a score in the reverse fixture at Odsal in round two.
This Sunday’s match against the Bulls is an all-ticket game. No tickets will be available on the day. This is due to the current capacity restriction at the Olympic Legacy Park from the Safety Advisory Group.
Tickets can be purchased here and also include entry to Sheffield Eagles Women’s inaugural home game at the Olympic Legacy Park against Featherstone Lionesses (12:30pm KO)
By Lewis Coleman, graphic by Alex Coleman