Late Eagles heartbreak as Halifax snatch victory
Sheffield Eagles suffered an agonising 18-17 loss to Halifax in round one of the Betfred Championship at The Shay.
Oliver Roberts’ last-minute try was enough to see the West Yorkshire side to victory over a solid Eagles outfit.
Ryan Millar and Robbie Ward both notched tries in the first half as the visitors went into the break 10-4 to the good.
In the second period, Steve Tyrer and Joel Farrell exchanged tries for Halifax and the Eagles respectively before Izaac Farrell slotted a drop-goal to extend Sheffield's lead to seven points with ten minutes to go.
Unfortunately for the visitors, a twist in the tale occurred courtesy of tries from James Saltonstall and Roberts.
Mark Aston gave debuts to six players, including Farrell who partnered Corey Makelim in the halves as the suspended Anthony Thackeray watched on.
Zack McComb and Connor Bower were chosen in the centre berths, with Rob Worrincy in his usual wing spot.
Frankie Mariano and Ward featured from the bench.
It only took four minutes for the first score of the afternoon and it went the way of Halifax, and their winger Conor McGrath. Steve Tyrer couldn’t convert.
The Eagles responded by scoring twice without reply, forging a lead going into the break.
Sheffield’s opener was certainly easier on the eye than the second, as nice passing to the left flank created space for Millar to touch down. Farrell hit the post with the conversion attempt.
The go-ahead score from Ward came from a Halifax kick as the hooker charged down a Murrell punt, kicked on and subsequently slid over the whitewash. Farrell added the extras.
In the opening exchanges after the restart, both sides were sloppy with ball in hand with neither able to create too much pressure.
That certainly changed as the final quarter approached, with Halifax winning a goal-line dropout and consecutive penalties.
The hosts made full use of the territory gained as they levelled the scores through Tyrer, who collected a cross-field Murrell kick and also converted the four-pointer.
The Farrells put Sheffield back ahead on 58 minutes with Joel powering over from close range and Izaac converting from the tee.
Game management would be key from this point onwards and a drop goal from half-back Farrell with ten minutes to go was a prime example.
Despite this, Halifax found a second wind in the dying embers.
A pinpoint Tom Gilmore pass gave Saltonstall a free run to the line before Roberts won the game for Simon Grix’s side with just over a minute to go.
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman