SHEFFIELD Eagles launch a battle on two fronts at the weekend – seeking success in the league and doubling their crowds.
The Eagles kick-off the Championship season with Swinton Lions the visitors to Don Valley Stadium.
In tandem they have launched a poster campaign aimed at bringing back former fans and attracting families. The target is to boost attendances to the 2,500 average needed to make an application to join the Super League is 2015.
“We can bring Super League back to Sheffield. I remember the days when we had 6,000 people here, those fans are still out there, we just need to re-engage with them,” said coach Mark Aston, who was a player when the club dropped out of the game’s top flight in 1999.
The team goes into the first league game on the back of finishing unbeaten and top of Pool B in the group stages of the Northern Rail Cup.
Aston says the competition has helped focus his thinking on his best 17 after giving every fit member of the squad at least one game.
He said: “It’s coming on quite nicely but we’re not going to get carried away with ourselves. Our objective is to do a little bit better than we did last year in the Championship.”
Half-back Dominic Brambani, who returned to the club this season, and forward Peter Green were outstanding in the 36-4 win over York Knights in the final Rail Cup group game.
The competition will resume in June with the quarter-finals.
Strong, well-organised defence helped the Eagles shade a first half against York. Tries from winger Nev Morrison and Brambani gave them a 12-4 lead. A 30-metre run by centre Menzie Yere set the standard after the restart with a second try for Brambani and touchdowns from Duane Straugheir and Misi Taulapapa following. Simon Brown added all six conversions.
Swinton come to Don Valley Stadium (kick-off 3pm) after winning promotion last season. This year they have struggled in the Rail Cup winning only one of four games.
Eagles are making a big push to boost the crowd and hope to attract more families to their games. They have launched a free season tickets offer to under-16s and there will be pre-match entertainment including a bouncy castle at Sunday’s game.