MIDWAY through the Championship season and Sheffield Eagles have passed a few tough examinations.
Ten games played, seven wins and 22 points – seven more than at the same stage last season.
The team played and won their last game on a pitch at a private school and if they were given an end of term report it might read: Showed determination, keep up the hard work.
A dispute between the clubs over fixture dates and the unavailability of Bramall Lane and Don Valley Stadium took the game against Dewsbury Rams to Mount St May’s College, Spinkhill, on Friday night.
On a warm evening it produced a festive atmosphere with the barbecue and beer tent doing good business.
On the field a 40-12 win over Dewsbury Rams mirrored the pattern of Eagles play in games this season.
The Eagles started hesitantly with mistakes gifting the Rams possession but a strong defence bought time and the passing moves started to flow. Converting chances into tries hasn’t been a problem and by half-time Eagles were 18-0 ahead. Dewsbury crossed the white line a couple of times in the second half but three tries in the final ten minutes made sure of the first league double of the season. “Sloppy play put us on the back foot but the lads try-line defence was magnificent – the attitude and commitment was all I could ask for,” said coach Mark Aston.
“It’s on the back of that strong defending that we’re getting the results.”
The trip to the South West of France this weekend looks on paper like a ‘school’ treat for the players.
Toulouse Olympique have won only twice in the league this season and took a 34-16 hammering from the Eagles at Bramall Lane in March.
That hides a run of injuries for the French side but key players are starting to come back – including hooker Craig Cook who, with forward Ged Corcoran, was recruited from the Eagles.
Aston added: “Toulouse have been having a poor run but they’ve got some good players and they are at home. Cookie and Ged will be out to make a point.
“We’ve got two wins on the bounce and we want to keep the run going, but playing in Toulouse is different to a normal away game.
“It’ll be very hot and it can be a test of stamina and keeping the errors down when players get tired.”