Eagles conquer valiant Oldham
Sheffield Eagles returned to winning ways on Sunday afternoon with a victory over Oldham after a two-week layoff due to a COVID outbreak at the club.
Sheffield’s last two fixtures against Bradford Bulls and York City Knights were cancelled, with the Eagles meeting the RFL guidelines regarding COVID positive tests and close contacts.
Eagles chief Mark Aston named a much-changed squad in Sheffield’s first game since July 25th - in the home loss to Halifax Panthers - following a further outbreak.
Aaron Brown moved from loose forward to stand-off, he partnered Harry Tyson-Wilson in the halves as the duo replaced the absent Izaac Farrell and Anthony Thackeray.
Captain Matt James moved to loose forward from prop to accommodate Brown’s position change.
James Glover returned to the starting side as he replaced Ryan Johnson, who started on the interchange bench. Joel Farrell was replaced by Evan Hodgson.
It was a quiet opening period at the Keepmoat, Sheffield kept out the Oldham attack after back-to-back penalties before Ryan Millar was denied a score for offside.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring after 19 minutes through Danny Langtree, who profited off the back of an Oldham wrap-around play. Abram converted the try to start a perfect day from the tee.
The Eagles responded immediately through Matt James as the Eagles captain showed his power to barge over the line from close range. Josh Guzdek was handed the kicking duties following Izaac Farrell’s absence and converted his first goal of the day.
Sheffield continued their good work and scored again five minutes later.
This time Oliver Davies was the benefactor of some smart Eagles play down the right side and he went in underneath the posts. Guzdek converted.
Scott Wheeldon was next over the line but solid defence from the desperate visitors meant he was held up over the whitewash.
Oldham added a score just before the half-time hooter to level matters.
The Roughyeds broke downfield through Bradley Jinks and crossed the whitewash on the next play with Sheffield’s defence left unorganised.
Martyn Reilly was the Oldham try-scorer, with Abram’s conversion tying up the scores at the break.
HALF-TIME: SHEFFIELD EAGLES 12-12 OLDHAM RLFC
The Eagles came out of the traps quickly after the half-time interval and scored first through Millar.
A quick-thinking James Glover broke through the Roughyeds defence before his pass put Millar underneath the sticks.
Sheffield would go on to complete back-to-back tries but not before a ten-minute stoppage for the injured Tyler Dickinson, who was stretchered off the field of play
James Davey set up the Eagles’ fourth and final try of the afternoon. The hooker spotted a gap in the Oldham defence before weaving through and passing to Guzdek for a walk-in score. The full back’s conversion gave the Eagles a 12-point-lead with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Oldham wouldn’t go away and replied with a four-pointer to keep the pressure on.
Tyler Dupree’s long-range effort, coupled with Abram’s conversion, made it a six-point ball game.
The visitors were searching for an equaliser in the final quarter but Sheffield’s defence stood up to the challenge.
Tyson-Wilson’s game management excelled in the second half and his drop-goal five minutes from time proved too much for Oldham to recover from.
FULL-TIME: SHEFFIELD EAGLES 25-18 OLDHAM RLFC
By Lewis Coleman, photo by Alex Coleman