Eagles fly past Panthers in League 1 semi-final
Sheffield Eagles 82
Halifax Panthers 16
2pm, Sunday 25th September, Olympic Legacy Park, Sheffield.
The Eagles are now just 80 minutes away from promotion, after securing a spot in the League One playoff final.
The Eagles received the kickoff, and started as they meant to continue - with strong runs from Evans, Wood, Arnold, and Lendon ending in Auger pushing through to score under the sticks at just 2 minutes on the clock. Green was set up perfectly to convert and add the extras.
Just minutes later, the Panthers launched the ball into the air on the fifth, which was gathered by Eagles who started their set on their 40m. Carries by Saunders and Evans lead to a well timed pass from Parker to Auger to go past 2 defenders and score next to the sticks, with Green added the extras.
The following minutes saw the Eagles show their defensive strength, with excellent tackles by Saunders and Sayles - keeping the Panthers at bay. A break by Fisher up the left wing saw the Eagles pass halfway, she quickly offloaded to Thomas in support, and then back over to Fisher to score on the left wing. The angle proved too wide to convert. Soon after Parker gathered a loose ball and made good ground, Mulvey then broke the line, sprinting downfield. Finally, a well timed pass from Palmer to Evans gave her the opportunity to ground the ball on the wing. Again, the angle proved too wide for Green to convert.
Now with a comfortable 20 point lead, the Eagles didn't become complacent. Auger made a string drive up the middle, offloading to Green who made yards before passing to Thomas to score on the left often sticks, converted by Green. Catching the Panther’s return kick, Arnold pushed Sheffield over halfway, the Eagles rolled the Panthers downfield and Auger was unstoppable from 10m out - scoring under sticks, achieving a hat-trick in the first half. Green was set up perfectly to convert.
The Eagles followed up with yet more impressive attacking skills - powering towards the try line where Parker went low to plant the ball over the line. Haglington converted successfully. Next, Mulvey offloaded in a tackle to Thomas, who then passed to Green who ran through to score. Again, Haglington added the extras.
Credit has to go to the Panthers, who kept their heads up, despite the Eagles' lead. Pressure in defence led to an Eagles error and a Halifax scrum 20m out - their no. 9 took her chance and broke through to score under sticks. The Halifax no. 8 converted to add the spares.
With just 1 minute before the half time whistle, Thomas made a break directly from the scrum and couldn’t be stopped - running half the length of the pitch to score. Haglinton converted, leaving the score at 54 - 12 at 40 minutes.
The second half saw Sheffield return with just as much momentum as the first, and at 42 minutes Parker broke through to score on the right wing. The angle proved too wide for Haglington to add the extras.
Next, a goal line drop out from the Eagles gave Halifax the opportunity to go hard in attack. Their no. 9 broke through to score her second try of the game. Their no. 8 once again added the extras.
Soon after, Wood made an impressive break downfield, then a pick-and-go from Thomas allowed her to plant the ball over the line - securing her hat-trick. Haglington was unable to convert. Once again, Auger used her power to break the defensive line and race over the try line from 40m out.
Woods continued to show her skills at dummy half, with a strong break to score under the sticks. Green successfully adding the extras.
Captain Lendon continued the Eagles pressure. Gathering a loose ball and making a half pitch dash for the try line. Only to be denied by a valiant tackle by the Panthers. Green finished the work and passed off to Coates to score. Green successfully converted.
Despite the score, Halifax continued to drive forwards, challenging the Eagles' defensive line. Following a great tactical kick off the Panthers no. 12 identified a gap, diving powerfully over the try line. The Panthers failed to convert.
A great forward run by second row Saunders, saw her hand off the final defenders, finishing off her player of the match performance. In the final minute of the game, Thomas' strong run from dummy half and well timed pass, allowed Auger to enter the Eagles history books with her fifth try of the game. Green confidently added the extras. Sending the Eagles firmly into the League one playoff Final!
Final score 82 - 16
Tries: Caps Auger (2, 5, 25, 56, 79), Claire Fisher (14), Phoebe Evans (19), Tori Thomas (22, 39, 53), Lisa Parker (28, 42), Danie Green (31), Agnes Wood (70), Tayler Coates (73)
Goals: Danie Green 7/9, Molly Haglington 4/6
Danie Green, Ellie Tiffin, Claire Fisher, Phoebe Evans, Tori Thomas, Lisa Parker, Sarah Palmer (VC), Capucine Auger, Agnes Wood, Jessica Sayles, Simone Saunders, Beth Arnold, Pete Lendon (C), Molly Haglington, Olivia Mulvey, Jenny Crofts, Kate Fletcher, Aiden Cottrell-Callbeck, Tayler Coates, Nell Colclough
By Chris Scullion