Match Preview - Featherstone Rovers (H)
After the postponement of last weekend’s match against Halifax, Sheffield Eagles are back in action on Sunday when Featherstone Rovers visit the Keepmoat Stadium.
Two Eagles players tested positive for COVID-19 and five others were identified as close contacts.
With seven players ruled out, this is the minimum permitting the postponement of a match due to COVID-related reasons.
Featherstone come into the match with an unbeaten record of five wins from as many matches, including a thumping victory over Oldham on Monday.
Last Time Out
Sheffield Eagles were rocked by a lethal final 20 minutes from Batley Bulldogs as the West Yorkshire side triumphed 18-30 at the Keepmoat.
The Eagles had overturned a 6-10 deficit at the break to go 18-10 up in the second half but Craig Lingard’s men responded in professional fashion, scoring four tries without reply to seal an eye-catching win.
Luke Hooley opened the scoring for Batley before Rob Worrincy fired back with his 199th career try.
Tom Gilmour restored the Bulldogs’ advantage prior to the interval as he picked up a loose Sheffield pass to race away.
Worrincy brought up a career double-century with the first try of the second half, bamboozling the defence with tricky footwork.
Jordan Bull, on debut, extended the hosts’ advantage by touching down a grubber before things started to go downhill.
Hooley, Dane Manning, Johnny Campbell and Elliot Hall all scored in the last 15-minutes as Batley finished the match in a blaze of glory.
Featherstone Rovers piled on the points as they beat Oldham 68-0 at the Millennium Stadium.
The hosts were 40-0 up at half-time thanks to tries from Dane Chisholm, Brad Day, Thomas Minns as well as doubles courtesy of Craig Hall and Jack Bussey.
More Fev four-pointers followed with Josh Hardcastle, Tom Holmes, Nu Brown, Connor Jones and Gareth Gale all crossing the whitewash.
A team of Featherstone’s calibre cannot be taken lightly and they’ll provide danger from all areas of the pitch.
Their demolition of Oldham is a sign of that but they’ve also shown some steel in their performances - a prime example being their hard-fought victory over a solid York City Knights outfit.
On a pitch like the Keepmoat, it lends itself to expansive rugby and Featherstone will be wanting to take advantage of that.
Ex-Eagle Dane Chisholm has recently come back into the fold, and playing at full-back, while Tom Holmes and Nu Brown have been half-back partners.
That trio will be looking to run the Rovers show against an Eagles side that will be without their talisman playmaker Anthony Thackeray.
Josh Guzdek is expected to be at full-back once again, but the halves situation will be a conundrum for Director of Rugby Mark Aston.
Izaac Farrell has played every game of 2021 and in a game where Thackeray is not available, that isn’t expected to change.
But will Harry Tyson-Wilson get his first run-out of the year, on a ground where he’s played previously for Doncaster?
Another option is ball-playing loose forward Aaron Brown, who has been known to fill in at half-back when needed.
How To Watch
Tickets for Sunday’s match will be available until midday on Saturday. They can be purchased from here.
No tickets, online or at the stadium, will be sold from midday so make sure to get yours before then.
#OurLeague are live-streaming this game so if you have got an Eagles Membership, you can watch this from the comfort of your own home should you wish.
No Eagles Membership? No problem. You can buy the live-stream for £4.95 from here as an early-bird price. If bought on the day of the game, the cost is £10.
Code Of Conduct
Coming to the Keepmoat on Sunday? We cannot wait to welcome both sets of fans back into a ground, for what seems like the first time in forever!
Please adhere to the Code of Conduct, which can be read here, at all times. Enjoy the game!
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman