Eagles defeated by in-form Halifax
Sheffield Eagles fell to a third consecutive loss on Sunday afternoon as Simon Grix’s Halifax Panthers came away with a 38-14 victory in a fiery contest at The Shay.
Mark Aston rang the changes following Liam Johnson’s departure and the injuries to Tyler Dickinson and Connor Bower in last weekend’s AB Sundecks 1895 Cup semi-final defeat to Leigh Centurions.
Kadeem Williams and Josh Guzdek both returned to the match-day squad, the duo coming off the bench.
The Eagles made a decent start in West Yorkshire but couldn’t convert their early pressure into points after two goal-line drop-outs in the opening five minutes.
Halifax hit the front after 13 minutes, capitalising on an Eagles error.
Ryan Johnson’s knock-on was picked up before Ben Tibbs evaded the Sheffield defence to score the game’s opening try.
James Woodburn-Hall added the Panthers’ second before a Joe Keyes penalty goal kept the scoreboard ticking over on 25 minutes following sin-bins to Izaac Farrell and former Eagle Matt Garside following the first scuffle of the day.
Two tries in the last 10 minutes of the half gave Halifax a 24-0 lead. First Tibbs, and then Lachlan Walmsley soon after, finished off well-worked Fax moves.
Half-time: Halifax Panthers 24-0 Sheffield Eagles
The Panthers added their fifth try of the afternoon through winger Jason Saltonstall who scored acrobatically in the corner despite a defensive effort from Jason Bass.
Sheffield registered their opening try of the game a few minutes before the hour mark through Ben Jones-Bishop.
The Jamaican international came out on top of a contest with opposite number Walmsley following Anthony Thackeray’s cross-field kick.
Sheffield went to the right edge on their next surge forward and found similar success with Kris Welham’s try.
Intelligent play from the centre meant he could bypass the Panthers' defence as the Eagles went back-to-back within a few minutes.
Halifax took back control of the contest a couple of minutes later; Brandon Moore was in support of Titus Gwaze’s breakthrough as the hooker went in underneath the sticks.
Ryan Johnson, who was moved out to the wing following Josh Guzdek’s introduction, touched down after he collected a defence-splitting pass from Izaac.
Tibbs completed his hat-trick in the final five minutes, hitting a good line before speeding past QLT to score.
The game didn’t mellow out as expected, the final minute saw an explosion after a high shot on Joel Farrell which ended in Izaac being shown a yellow card for the second time.
Full-time: Halifax Panthers 38-14 Sheffield Eagles
The Eagles return home next Monday evening as Widnes Vikings are the first visitors to the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Community Stadium.
By Lewis Coleman, photo by Alex Coleman