Eagles comeback halted by Panthers
Sheffield Eagles lost their opening day fixture to Halifax Panthers on Sunday afternoon but came away from West Yorkshire with positives to ponder.
After being 16-0 down inside half an hour, the Eagles battled back to within two points of the Panthers during the second half.
However, Mark Aston’s side - aided by a Bayley Liu brace - couldn’t get their noses in front as Halifax took the spoils.
James Saltonstall opened the scoring for Halifax on five minutes, with Joe Keyes adding the extras.
The Panthers’ other winger, Lachlan Walmsley, extended the hosts’ advantage later in the half with an acrobatic finish in the corner.
Simon Grix’s side were wanting to put the game to bed before the break and they did go 16-0 to the good following Jake Maizen’s first try in Halifax colours. Keyes added the extras.
Maizen’s score came whilst Halifax had a man advantage due to Brandon Douglas being shown a yellow card for backchat to the referee.
Upon Douglas’ return, Sheffield got themselves on the scoreboard thanks to Aaron Murphy. A special day for the second-rower as he celebrated his 300th career appearance. Jack Hansen converted and the Eagles were ten points adrift at the interval.
Half-time - Halifax Panthers 16-6 Sheffield Eagles
Halifax were ticking their points over on 51 minutes after being given a penalty on the Eagles’ 20-metre line. Keyes pointed to the sticks and knocked over the two.
An error in the next set from the Panthers gave Sheffield a big opportunity to cut the deficit in half. They did just that as Liu muscled his way over the line before Hansen converted.
Another Keyes penalty goal on the hour restored Fax’s two-score lead but the Eagles weren’t giving up by any stretch of the imagination.
Another Liu four-pointer, and Hansen conversion, put the visitors in a position to nick the spoils with 15 minutes remaining.
Walmsley had a try disallowed for a forward pass before a high tackle on Hansen gifted Sheffield vital field position to launch one last attack.
An interception from Halifax, and subsequent try from Maizen, made sure the Eagles’ effort would be in vain.
Full-time - Halifax Panthers 26-18 Sheffield Eagles
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman