Match Preview - Halifax Panthers (A)
Following a 25-25 draw against Whitehaven last weekend, the Eagles are on the road to West Yorkshire to face Halifax this Sunday.
Despite a great start to the year with wins over Bradford and York, Sheffield have faltered in recent weeks while dealing with injuries to key personnel.
Joel Farrell has been a mainstay for the Eagles but is currently out with a knee injury and Josh Guzdek is the latest to join him on the treatment table after picking up a shoulder knock against Whitehaven.
Meanwhile, despite a blip in their last match, Halifax have picked up a couple of good results after opening their campaign with three defeats in four games.
Bouncing back with comprehensive victories against Dewsbury and Newcastle, Fax couldn’t continue that upturn in form as they stumbled to an eight-point loss at the hands of rivals Featherstone.
Last Time Out
Halifax were beaten 8-16 at the hands of the Rovers, who had conquered Sheffield the previous week.
The Panthers opened the scoring midway through the first period thanks to a Connor Robinson penalty but Featherstone hit back before the interval.
Nu Brown’s try, converted by Dane Chisholm, gave Featherstone a 6-2 advantage at half-time.
Craig Hall and Gareth Gale both got on the scoresheet for Rovers in the second half before Adam Tangata powered through for Fax’s first and only try of the afternoon.
The final quarter saw both sides cancel each other out as James Webster’s men sealed another win.
Sheffield snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat against Whitehaven at the Keepmoat.
Anthony Thackeray’s drop goal, as the final hooter sounded, was a cruel blow for the Cumbrians, who looked like they had the game wrapped up with a three-score lead in the final quarter.
Connor Holliday broke the deadlock just two minutes in for Haven before the hosts fired back courtesy of Greg Burns and Brad Knowles.
Whitehaven closed the first half out professionally as Lachlan Walmsley and Gregg McNally both touched down, before the latter slotted over the first drop goal of the game.
The visitors led 12-19 at the break and were gearing up for a celebration on the trip back to the Recre after Jake Bradley scored on the hour.
Izaac Farrell’s try with ten minutes to go had a feeling of ‘too little too late’ about it but Sheffield never gave up, and they got their reward.
A customary Thackeray show-and-go handed him a try on a plate and following Farrell’s fourth conversion of the game, the hosts were back to within a point.
The last play of the match was a bit of a mess as the Eagles threw the ball from one wing to another, before finding Thackeray who coolly pinged the drop goal.
The emergence of prop forward Bobby Tyson-Wilson has been a positive for Sheffield over the last couple of weeks.
An offloading machine with a try to his name already, Tyson-Wilson brings something a little different to the table and he fits perfectly into the Eagles’ expansive style.
Scott Wheeldon and Matt James were the starting prop forwards against Whitehaven while Tyson-Wilson, Blake Broadbent and Tyler Dickinson added some punch from the bench when called upon.
Whoever is chosen to lead the pack against Halifax will know the size of the challenge in front of them.
The Panthers had Gadwin Springer and Adam Tangata as their front-row pairing against Featherstone, before Elliot Morris and Daniel Murray both made interchange appearances.
Mark Aston mentioned that his squad were ‘sluggish’ against Whitehaven and if the same occurs on Sunday, the Fax forwards will be able to lay a platform for their dummy-half to roam the land.
The battle of the front-rowers will be the key to success at the weekend.
How To Watch
Away fans are not allowed into The Shay on Sunday due to local council guidelines.
The game will be streamed live on Our League and it costs £4.95 as an early-bird price.
This rises to £10 if you buy on the day of the game.
Make sure to visit rugby-league.com/ourleague to get yours today.
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman