Eagles put Knights to the sword
Sheffield Eagles continued their fine start to the 2021 Betfred Championship season, edging out York City Knights 14-20 at the LNER Community Stadium.
Two tries from Anthony Thackeray and a score from Tyler Dickinson, along with four goals from Izaac Farrell, were enough for a Sheffield side full of confidence after beating Bradford Bulls last time out.
Mike Adlard deputised at full-back for the Eagles, who welcomed back Scott Wheeldon and Frankie Mariano for their first appearances in the Red and Gold this year.
York started brightly in their new surroundings but it was the visitors who opened the scoring six minutes in through Thackeray.
The half-back’s short ball was met by Oliver Davies who broke the York line before his pass went to ground - Thackeray picked up the pieces following an error from Kieran Dixon to finish the move that he started. Farrell converted from out-wide.
Sheffield were looking to take control of proceedings and were rewarded with three goal-line drop-outs after clever kicks from both Thackeray and Farrell.
York weren’t shy in showing their quality too, as they came close to levelling the scores when Dixon climbed high to take Thackeray’s kick before sprinting 90m, only to be caught by Ryan Millar.
The Knights did get their reward moments later when Will Jubb collected a grubber kick from Brendan O’Hagan, Kieran Dixon made it 6-6 from the tee.
Sheffield responded in kind and after two more drop-outs, the visitors regained their lead on 34 minutes through talisman Thackeray.
Aaron Brown fed the scrum-half who spotted a slim gap in the Knights’ defence and powered through. Farrell once again kicked the goal.
The Eagles extended their advantage just before the half-time hooter as Dickinson muscled his way through three York defenders to dot down next to the sticks.
Farrell gave Sheffield a two-score lead at the interval with a third successful conversion.
Moments into the second half and there was bad news for the Eagles as Paddy Burns received lengthy medical attention before leaving the pitch on a stretcher.
Burns did not return to the action but he was able to stand and communicate in the Eagles’ dressing room.
York reacted well after the break in play and got their second try of the afternoon on 44 minutes.
O’Hagan was heavily involved yet again, his grubber kick forced Rob Worrincy to fumble and Dixon capitalised on the error. The try-scorer missed the conversion attempt.
Sheffield posted their only points of the second half following a high tackle on Joel Farrell. Izaac maintained his 100% record with the boot, putting the visitors 10-20 up with over half an hour to go.
The Eagles continued to display their defensive strength during the second period and that laid the foundation for Mark Aston’s men to try and put the game to bed at the other end.
Mike Adlard’s swift break almost worked a treat but the ex-Hull FC man couldn’t beat the last York defender before knocking on at the play-the-ball.
With five minutes left on the clock, a try from Liam Salter set up a nervy finish for the Eagles as they looked to hold on. The try went unconverted despite Dixon’s best effort, leaving six points between the sides.
Sheffield had to show more defensive steel towards the end and they had that in abundance. A Dixon knock-on put paid to any late drama as the visitors sealed victory.
The Eagles travel to Newcastle Thunder next Sunday, targeting a third consecutive win in the league.
By Lewis Coleman, photo by Alex Coleman