Eagles struck down by Thunder
Sheffield Eagles suffered their first defeat of the Betfred Championship season, going down 24-16 to Newcastle Thunder at Kingston Park.
The Eagles led 6-12 at half-time thanks to tries from James Glover and Joel Farrell.
Thunder fired back in the second period with two converted tries before Jack Render brought the visitors back to within two points on 75 minutes. Izaac Farrell hit the post with a conversion attempt from the touchline.
A powerful effort from Ukuma Ta’ai, converted by Josh Woods, gave Newcastle an unassailable lead and confirmed their opening league win of 2021.
Mark Aston welcomed Brad Knowles and Blake Broadbent back into the fold, while giving Render a debut in place of the injured Rob Worrincy.
Newcastle opened the scoring in the first quarter through winger Jack Johnson. Woods added the extras for an early 6-0 advantage.
Thunder’s defence was proving to be a tough nut to crack but the Eagles managed it after 28 minutes.
Anthony Thackeray’s deft grubber got away from Joel Farrell but Glover was there to pounce and touch down. Izaac levelled matters at 6-apiece.
Joel got his own score on the stroke of half-time following good work from Tyler Dickinson.
Dickinson piggybacked a few Thunder defenders to their own 10m before offloading, the ball was moved and Farrell muscled his way over. Izaac converted.
Half-time - Newcastle Thunder 6-12 Sheffield Eagles
It took just five minutes in the second half for the scoreboard to tick over, but it went the way of Newcastle.
An error under the high ball from Eagles full-back Mike Adlard was capitalised on by Cole Oakley, who crossed close to the sticks.
Woods was on hand to convert.
With the final quarter looming, Render was eying his first try in Eagles colours but an acrobatic effort in the corner was chalked off by the touch judge.
On the hour, Jay Chapelhow gave Thunder the lead as he picked a gap in the Sheffield defence and couldn’t be stopped. Woods converted for 18-12.
The Eagles almost responded in quick time but Izaac fumbled a Thackeray kick over the try-line.
Newcastle had to play the final ten minutes of the contest with 12 men as Joe Brown was given a yellow card for a professional foul on Aaron Brown.
The loose forward looked certain to score from a Thackeray grubber but was pulled back by the Thunder centre.
Both Brown and Thackeray fashioned chances for the Eagles, with the former knocking on as he tried to spin out of a tackle while the latter made a break but wasn’t supported.
The man advantage was exploited five minutes from time as Render went over in the corner. Izaac’s conversion attempt hit the woodwork and the deficit stayed at two points.
Time was running out so the Eagles tried to act quickly. Straight from the restart, they threw the ball to the blind-side but knocked on.
Thunder kept the ball central and dealt the killer blow when Ta’ai barged over. Woods converted to seal the win.
Full-time - Newcastle Thunder 24-16 Sheffield Eagles
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman