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Match Preview - Newcastle Thunder (A)

23/04/2021

Sheffield Eagles will have their sights set on a third consecutive league victory on Sunday evening when they make the trip to Kingston Park to face Newcastle Thunder. 

The Eagles have reacted well following their Challenge Cup loss to York City Knights last month, getting back in the winners enclosure against Bradford Bulls before exacting revenge on the Knights last weekend. 

A 14-20 victory over York may have raised a few eyebrows among the Championship, considering the strong squad at James Ford’s disposal, but nobody within the Eagles camp will have been surprised by such a professional showing. 

Newcastle are without a win from their first two Championship fixtures but as Eagles Assistant Coach Ged Corcoran mentioned in the week, like every team in the Championship, they cannot be underestimated. 

Last Time Out

Newcastle suffered defeat at Whitehaven, going down 29-20 at the Recre. 

Andrew Bulman notched a first half brace for Haven, scoring either side of a Connor Holiday try and Lachlan Walmsley penalty. 

Kieran Gill crossed for Thunder’s only try of the first half as Eamon O’Carroll’s men went into the break 18-6 down. 

Karl Dixon extended the hosts’ lead after the restart but Thunder weren’t going down without a fight. 

Tries from Jack Johnson and Sam Wilde gave the Tyneside outfit a sprinkle of hope.

This hope was extinguished when Walmsley scored a try and Nikau Williams kicked a drop-goal in the final five minutes. 

Alex Clegg’s try for Thunder in the final moments a mere consolation as their search for a Championship win continues. 

Sheffield were triumphant at LNER Community Stadium but had to work hard against a gritty York side. 

Anthony Thackeray bagged a brace before Tyler Dickinson stormed over the whitewash on the final play of the opening 40 minutes.

Izaac Farrell was 100% with the boot throughout the evening, kicking three conversions in the first half. 

York’s only effort in that time came courtesy of Will Jubb, who got on the end of a Brendan O’Hagan grubber. That try was converted. York 6-18 Sheffield at the interval.

The second half was moments old when Paddy Burns went down injured after making a tackle. He was stretchered from the field in what looked a worrying scene, but reports soon came out that he was sat up in the changing room and speaking. 

Once the game got underway again, York were soon back on the scoresheet as they tried to rally themselves into a comeback. Kieran Dixon the man to touch down another dangerous York kick. His conversion attempt drifted wide. 

An Eagles penalty in York territory ended with Farrell pointing to the sticks and slotting the ball through them - the only points Sheffield would score in the second stanza. 

Liam Salter’s unconverted try five minutes from time set up a nervy finish but Sheffield’s defence stayed firm to seal a 14-20 success.

Key Battle 

The Eagles are known for their expansive style of play and that starts right from the back. 

Josh Guzdek is Sheffield’s usual number one but he played at centre against York, with Mike Adlard drafted in at full-back. 

Eagles chief Mark Aston has a knack of finding diamonds in the rough and Adlard could prove to be another to put into that category. 

A former Rugby Sevens player, with experience of the 13-man code from his time in the Hull FC ranks, Adlard showed glimpses of quality in his first taste of Championship action. 

We’ll find out whether he has got the nod to stay in the starting line-up closer to kick-off, but he certainly didn’t do his chances any harm last Sunday. 

Thunder have a wealth of talent in their backs but they will be without their eye-catching full-back Lewis Young this weekend. 

His omission comes due to injury but Newcastle have a couple of solid replacements to choose from. 

Jack Johnson, who has played on the wing for the last two league matches, and utility back Calum Turner are two players capable of playing at full-back.. 

Turner was chosen at centre for the game against Whitehaven but with young outside back Isaac Nokes set for his debut on Sunday, Turner may be the man to take over from Young.

21 Man Squads 

Thunder; Jack Johnson, Calum Turner, Jake Shorrocks, Josh Woods, Nathan Wilde, Bob Beswick, Mikey Wood, Ukuma Ta'ai, Sam Wilde, Evan Simons, Ted Chapelhow, Jay Chapelhow, Alex Clegg, Evan Hodgson, Cole Oakley, Reece Dean, Joe Brown, Alex Donaghy, Cian Tyrer, Isaac Nokes, Nathan Clemmitt 

Eagles; Josh Guzdek, James Glover, Ryan Millar, Anthony Thackeray, Scott Wheeldon, James Davey, Matty James, Bradley Knowles, Joel Farrell, Aaron Brown, Greg Burns, Oliver Davies, Frankie Mariano, Tyler Dickinson, Blake Broadbent, Izaac Farrell, Harry Tyson-Wilson, Jordan Bull, Jack Render, Mike Adlard, Max Clarke.

How To Watch

Once again, the Eagles will be on #OurLeague and a live-stream code can be purchased for £4.95 up until game day from rugby-league.com/livestream 

The price increases to £10 on the day so make sure to purchase in advance. 

A reminder that Eagles Membership holders do not receive codes for away matches, they do need to be bought from the above link. 

By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman