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Eagles power past Broncos at Headingley

31/07/2022

LONDON BRONCOS 10
SHEFFIELD EAGLES 38

Dan Fowler for League Express, Headingley, Saturday 

SHEFFIELD EAGLES gained revenge on London Broncos for their record-breaking comeback earlier in the month with a polished performance at the Summer Bash. 

A five-tries-to-one second half in favour of Mark Aston’s men meant the spoils stayed in Yorkshire, with  centres Kris Welham and Josh Guzdek both registering doubles. 

It was the Broncos who got the scoring underway after 11 minutes as Wales International Dalton Grant benefited from a cute offload before beating Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e one-on-one. Oli Leyland added the extras. 

Sheffield fired back soon after with Guzdek on the end of a Laulu-Togaga’e pass, which was delayed to perfection. The centre couldn’t convert, leaving London in the lead by two points in the early going. 

The capital club were causing issues for the Eagles defence due to a swift offloading game, perfect for a fast-flowing surface like the one at Headingley. 

But it would be the South Yorkshire outfit who’d go into the half-time break with a slender advantage. Despite retiring at the end of the year, Anthony Thackeray’s pace is still there for all to see and his no-nonsense approach to taking on the line opened up a gap for Welham to dot down. Guzdek converted.

A fast start to the second half saw two tries in seven minutes, one for either side. Sheffield initially extended their lead as Welham tapped a Cory Aston into the grateful hands of Blake Broadbent for one of the easier tries of the prop forward’s career so far. Guzdek converted for a ten-point advantage but that was soon to be knocked down to four as the Broncos’ offloading game finally came up trumps.

Looking like he was heading for touch, London skipper Will Lovell got an arm free and fed Paul Ulberg to the whitewash. Leyland converted and it looked all set for a tense finish heading into the final quarter. Sheffield did not receive that particular script. 

Four tries in 11 minutes to close out the game was certainly something Mark Aston wouldn’t have refused at Ebbsfleet in early July but he got just that at Headingley. 

Welham completed his brace thanks to a scrum play which heavily involved Thackeray once more. A similar score to his first, the scrum-half with a run to the defensive line before a perfectly timed pass to the experienced outside back. 

A knock-on from London deep in their own half gave Sheffield another scrum, with another four points the end result. This time the ball was shifted to the left and Thackeray’s neat flick to Jason Bass didn’t go to waste with the ex-York man touching down in the corner. 

A touch of fortune followed for Guzdek’s brace as London got a foot to Aston’s grubber, which fell perfectly to the former Hull KR junior. 

The last score of the day was arguably the most exuberant, featuring a sublime grubber from Eagles prop forward Tyler Dickinson to the onrushing Ben Jones-Bishop. 

A close, cagey contest for the most part but a final ten minutes to savour for Sheffield. 

Photo by Alex Coleman