Match Preview - Featherstone Rovers (A)
Sheffield Eagles will be aiming to complete their 2021 season with a win on Sunday afternoon after a disappointing period for the club on the field.
The Eagles last recorded a victory over a month ago and in recent weeks have lost out to Oldham, Batley Bulldogs, London Broncos, Dewsbury Rams and Swinton Lions.
This Sunday’s hosts Featherstone will be hoping to finish off their regular season campaign with a 20th win of the season.
Rovers have lost just one match this season against the unbeaten league leaders Toulouse Olympique, who are likely to pose the most serious challenge for James Webster’s side in the play-offs.
LAST TIME OUT
Sheffield ended their home campaign with a defeat at the hands of the already relegated Swinton Lions.
The Eagles initially trailed at the Keepmoat before coming from behind to lead at the half-time break.
Luis Roberts and Nick Gregson added the early Swinton scores before tries from Tyler Dickinson, Joel Farrell and Rob Worrincy put Sheffield into a 16-10 lead at the interval.
Olly Butterworth stretched out the Eagles’ lead with a score on his Sheffield debut.
The Paratrooper and former GB Bobsleigh athlete showed his speed to punish a Swinton error as he touched down underneath the sticks.
Butterworth’s score didn’t put away the bottom-placed Lions who roared back with four second-half tries to win for a second time this season.
Bradford Bulls loanee Reece Hamlett scored for the visitors before Mitch Cox, Geronimo Doyle and Lewis Hatton provided scores for Swinton.
The contest proved to be over and a late second try for Joel Farrell proved only a consolation as the visitors took away a 28-34 win.
Featherstone finished off their 2021 with a win to complete an unbeaten season on the road.
Rovers dominated the first half in the capital, outscoring London Broncos by five tries to one at Trailfinders.
Gareth Gale scored his 24th try of the season within the first minute of the game before Connor Jones and Callum Field crashed over.
Jones added his second of the first half just after the 20-minute mark before London winger Gideon Boafo touched down.
Alex Walker added the final try of the half, giving the visitors a 4-28 lead at the break.
The Londoners provided the Rovers with a contest in the second half.
Josh Hodson scored London's first of the second forty before Tom Holmes and Frankie Halton provided the Featherstone tries.
Boafo collected try two, three and four of the afternoon but it was the visitors who ran out comfortable winners in the end as tries from Gale and a hat-trick try from Jones supplied the Championship’s second-placed side with a 28-48 victory.
The Eagles will face a tough test on Sunday afternoon against an in-form Featherstone outfit.
The Rovers have an abundance of talent in the half-back position and whoever is selected will provide the Eagles with a challenging day at the office.
Sheffield will be without their first-choice half-back pairing of Anthony Thackeray and Izaac Farrell, who are both absent from the 20 Man Squad.
Featherstone selected Nu Brown and Dane Chisholm as their ‘six’ and ‘seven’ in the triumph against London but could also call upon Tom Holmes, who came off the interchange bench last time out.
The versatility of the Rovers squad allows constant change to the backline with Craig Hall and Alex Walker both reliable options at the back.
Sheffield may call upon Harry Tyson-Wilson to fill the Thackeray hole in a move likely to see the departing Aaron Brown move to stand off.
By Lewis Coleman, photo by Alex Coleman