SHEFFIELD Eagles face a tough assessment of their early season form when they travel to Leigh Centurions tomorrow night (Friday).
Both clubs lost their opening Championship game but have been unbeaten in the following four rounds with only a bonus point separating them in the top six.
Like any good tutor Mark Aston set his charges extra preparation calling them for a Sunday training session. He said: “These are the games we need to perform in and we’ve got to be ready. There are still some things that I’m not happy about and some the lads are not happy about and we must make sure at Leigh we get to the standards we have set ourselves.”
With both clubs hitting try-scoring form a win at the Sports Village (kick-off 7.30pm) would help the Eagles open up a gap on one of their top six rivals.
The way a much-changed Eagles put York Knights to the sword 46-14 will have provided the positives for Aston.
He was able to give game time following long injury lay-offs to winger Vinny Finigan and loose-forward Joe Hirst plus bring in Hillsborough teenager Connor Scott for his first appearance in 18 months. Hirst struggled with the pace at times but Finigan helped himself to two tries. Scott worked hard and gave a message that the Eagles development programme is bearing fruit.
Prop Liam Higgins was strong and determined after missing two games and Menzie Yere celebrated his return to the starting line up with two tries.
Hooker Andrew Henderson’s third try in as many games put the Eagles into an early lead with Finigan and Duane Straugheir getting the other first half score. Yere’s double and scores from Tom Armstrong and Quentin Laulu-Togagae sealed the win with Dominic Brambani kicking seven goals.
Aston has now seen all his senior squad players in match action giving him a free run to send his strongest 17 to Leigh who won 46-16 at Keighley last weekend.
“We’ve had a look at a few people for the first time and they did well which is a massive positive,” said Aston. “Leigh will be tough and we can’t cruise through the gears as we did at times against York.”
The Eagles have assured supporters that they will fulfil planned fixtures at Don Valley Stadium this season in the wake of the announcement that the venue will close in September.
Chairman Ian Swire said: “Although we regret the closure of Don Valley Stadium which has seen many great games for Sheffield Eagles we will complete our fixtures this season at the stadium.”
Long-term the club is believed to be in discussions about a new smaller stadium being built on part of the DVS site.