SHEFFIELD Eagles have started their season with five straight wins but with it comes pressure admits coach Mark Aston.
The team kicked off the Championship season in impressive style hammering Swinton Lions 56-22 after going through the Rail Cup group stages unbeaten.
“We have put a marker down since the start of the season - it’s five on the bounce now and we want to keep that going but there are still some areas where we’re not where I want to be,” said Aston. “It’s the one per cent extra that we are trying to improve on.
“There were plenty of positives against Swinton but that’s gone and we have to look to the next game. We have work to do which is great because that’s what keeps people like me in a job!”
The Eagles put on a family funfair before the game and were rewarded with an 1,800 crowd – their best for two seasons.
Aston seemed set to enjoy the entertainment as the Eagles moved smoothly into a 24-6 lead against Swinton with first half tries from Alex Szostak, Menzie Yere, Dominic Brambani and Ryan Hepworth who was celebrating 100 games for the club.
Two quick tries from the Lions after the restart set alarm bells ringing and Aston reacted by bringing his starting front row of props Mitch Stringer and Jack Howieson and hooker Andrew Henderson back off the subs’ bench to restore order.
Tries from Vinny Finigan, Nev Morrison, Duane Straigheir, Quentin Laulu-Togagae and two from Joe Hirst wrapped up the game with Simon Brown finishing with eight goals from 10 kicks.
Aston said: “What frustrates the life out of me is when we go away from what puts us in a very good position. I had left them (the first half substitutes) on at half-time and I learned something from that. We needed to start the second half like we started the first but we didn’t.”
That’s likely to see the subs bench beefed up for the trip to Hunslet Hawks on Sunday with Aston adding an extra prop forward in place of a more mobile second rower.
Former Hull and Wakefield prop Liam Higgins, who was left out of the last two games, is available and Alex Rowe is nearing match fitness.
A win at Hunslet will mean more than just three points with the clubs drawn to meet in the quarter-finals of the Rail Cup when the competition resumes in mid-June.
Aston said: “Hunslet will want to set down a marker before the quarter-final. It’s a psychological game this week - but if we can go there and do a professional job then they will know the answer.”
Eagles will travel to Leeds amateurs Oulton Raiders – where coach Mark Aston first played rugby league – in the third round of the Challenge Cup on the weekend of March 24-25.
It’s the second time the Eagles have faced the National Conference team. In 2003 they won 22-8 at the same stage of the competition.
Aston said: “That’s good. I was there as a junior until about 13 and my dad played and coached there. They’re a good club and we’ll have to be professional.”