Betfred Championship R23: Sheffield vs Halifax Preview
Sheffield Eagles welcome Halifax Panthers to the Olympic Legacy Park on Friday evening for a scorching Betfred Championship encounter.
The Eagles are all but out of the playoff race and will battle it out with Bradford and Widnes to be the best of the rest in seventh.
Over in West Yorkshire, a recent victory over Batley Bulldogs has elevated Halifax into third place as they look to chase down second-placed Featherstone Rovers for a more advantageous playoff draw.
Last Time Out
Sheffield beat Whitehaven 38-26 in a topsy-turvy clash at the OLP. Anthony Thackeray notched a brace to increase his ever-growing try tally in what has been a superb season from the scrum-half.
Andrew Bulman and Karl Dixon both registered doubles for the visitors but that would prove to be in vain, although they were in front during the final quarter.
Ryan Johnson, Kris Welham, Matty Chrimes, Tom Holmes and Cory Aston (more about him in a bit..) all got on the scoresheet for the Eagles.
Halifax went into their Monday night fixture against Batley a tad fresher than their counterparts, considering the Bulldogs were playing their third game in eight days.
That factor was evident, more towards the end of the match, but it was James Saltonstall who stole the show for the Panthers with four tries. A yellow card in the last minute did not dampen spirits at The Shay.
34-18 to the Panthers at the final hooter. Now, back to Cory.
Key Battle - Tom Holmes | Cory Aston
It could happen so we’re running with it. Cory Aston sealed victory for the Eagles against Whitehaven with an interception try last weekend.
Tomorrow, he may be going up against the Eagles for his parent club after being recalled.
It could be an interesting evening for the Aston household!
From an Eagles perspective, Tom Holmes will more than likely fill the playmaking void left by Aston at stand-off. Holmes has been a shrewd pick-up by Sheffield after he signed for the club from Featherstone on a permanent deal earlier in the year.
His running game can cause issues, which makes the Thackeray-Holmes partnership a potentially dangerous one for opposition defences to deal with.
However, Halifax will be confident of coming to South Yorkshire and taking the spoils considering their recent form and Simon Grix will be asking his troops to keep their foot on the gas as their playoff preparations continue.
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By Dan Fowler, graphic by Alex Coleman