Eagles Wheelchair register second victory of 2023
Sheffield Eagles made it two from three in the Betfred Wheelchair Championship with a solid 24-42 victory over Mersey Storm in Widnes, avenging last year’s 16-140 drubbing at the hands of the storm in fine style.
The Eagles set off like a house on fire as Stephen Reilly jinked through in the first Eagles set before Emma Pearson won her race to the line shortly afterwards. Two quick-fire scores for Sheffield, eight points up in the early going as David Butler missed both conversion attempts.
Both teams got into the arm wrestle for a sustained period with Paul Harding leading the charge for the Storm who pressured the Eagles but a strong defensive effort from across the pitch kept a clean sheet.
Stacey Roulson was tackled short of the line and Pearson came close to grabbing a second try but last ditch tackling from Jack Woods on both occasions kept the Red and Gold at bay.
Butler moved the scoreboard on just after the 20 minute mark, dummying his way through from the halfway line to score. Chris Haynes went over shortly after with a similar move, Butler finally finding his mark with the conversion for the latter.
Will Brooks appeared from no where to complete a move which started with him playing the ball, showing the Eagles ability to move the ball around. Butler tagged on an easy conversion.
April Brooks showed improved composure to complete a passing move on the wing to add her name to the try tally, although the kick was again off target for Butler to take the half time lead to 0-28 for the visitors.
Head Coach Greg Brown had impressively used the opportunity of the Eagles stretching their wings to rotate the team and ensure all players on the team sheet had game time.
It looked like being a game of two halves as Mersey Storm introduced Dom Richards after the break who quickly brought the home side into the game with two rapid fire scores, one of which he converted. Luke Harding found his way through the Red and Gold to further narrow the gap. But with Storm behind on the scoreboard, the pressure was on them and it showed as the Eagles defence frustrated them and they at times over played, making mistakes which compounded their frustration.
Richards found his way through the defence two further times, with Alex Howe adding the extras for the first to bring the gap to just four points.
With Reilly having been returned to the field, he combined well with Pearson who had also returned to add a further try to stretch the Eagles lead. As Brown returned more of his starting line-up charges to the pitch, Reilly was able to add two further scores, with Butler adding just one further conversion, to seal the victory.
April Brooks was denied two efforts as she was tackled into touch on the right wing, being set free on both occasions by good dummy play, and whilst Storm continued to threaten, the Eagles soaked up the pressure and the remaining time to grind out a memorable win which takes them to third in the league.
Mersey Storm: Ste Argent, Jack Woods, Wham Tyrrell, Declan Ryan, Paul Harding. Andrew Holland, Alex Howe, Luke Harding, Dom Richards.
Tries: Dom Richards (41, 45, 51, 57), Luke Harding (48)
Goals: Dom Richards 1/3, Luke Harding 0/1, Alex Howe 1/1
Sheffield Eagles: David Butler, Emma Pearson, Chris Haynes, Stephen Reilly, Stacey Roulson. Interchanges: April Brooks, Will Brooks, Stuart Wilkinson, Lottie Davis-Browne, Jack Johnson
Tries: Stephen Reilly (2, 59, 64, 71), Emma Pearson (5), David Butler (22), Chris Haynes (25), Will Brooks (27), April Brooks (35)
Goals: David Butler 3/8, Stephen Reilly 0/1
Referees: Kim Abel / Richard Turner