Halifax vs Eagles Preview
Sheffield Eagles begin their Betfred Championship season with a trip to Halifax on Sunday.
The Eagles enjoyed a successful season in 2019 despite narrowly missing out on the end of season play-offs.
Mark Aston’s side won the inaugural 1895 Cup at Wembley with a 36-18 win over Widnes Vikings, making it two wins from two at the national stadium after the unforgettable Challenge Cup win in 1998.
The Eagles are targeting more success in 2020, aiming for a top five spot as well as another run in the 1895 Cup.
Sheffield completed their pre-season schedule with a tightly contested draw against Keighley Cougars.
The visitors trailed on three occasions at Cougar Park thanks to a Taylor Prell brace and a score from Steven Hayes.
Zack McComb impressed once again as he added another try to his Eagles career, following a debut double against Doncaster a week prior.
Josh Guzdek and James Davey also notched against the Cougars, with the game ending 18-18 despite late chances from both sides.
The Eagles head into round one without long-term absentees James Glover and captain Matt James, while Anthony Thackeray has a one-match ban for dissent.
Scott Wheeldon and Brad Knowles are included in Mark Aston’s 21-man squad, although neither featured in pre-season due to injury and suspension respectively.
Halifax come into their regular season on the back of an 8th-placed finish in 2019 but they did enjoy a successful Challenge Cup run.
The West Yorkshire club got to the semi-finals before being eliminated by eventual runners-up St Helens.
Simon Grix’s side earned two victories from three friendlies in preparation for the 2020 season.
The wins came against York City Knights and Hull FC but they suffered defeat to a full-strength Huddersfield Giants.
One to Watch - Scott Murrell
Our one to watch for Halifax is experienced stand-off Scott Murrell.
The former Hull Kingston Rovers man has been ever-present since joining the club in 2013.
The 34-year-old has amassed over 170 appearances in Fax colours and his fantastic organisational skills will be on show as he leads the hosts around the park.
Murrell is likely to be partnered by former Widnes half-backTom Gilmore, who joined in the offseason.
Tickets for the Round One fixture can be bought in advance at a reduced price, on Halifax's website via this link.
By Lewis Coleman, graphic by Alex Coleman