There’s no new silverware to polish at Sheffield Eagles and it’s back to the grind of earning league points.
Hopes of cup glory were dashed for a second successive weekend with defeat by Leigh Centurions in the Northern Rail final
The occasion didn’t have the glamour of the Challenge Cup quarter-final against London Broncos, but it would have been a welcome consolation prize.
Coach Mark Aston must now lift his squad as they go into the final eight games of the league season. He got the post-mortem on the Leigh game out of the way at training this week and is demanding his players take a positive view.
“We are massively disappointed and I’ve been honest with the lads but I’ve told them I don’t want them moping about,” he said.
“We’ve got eight league games left to play. Win those and we can take the league leader’s title and then go on to the Grand Final and win it for a second year. That’s always been our goal.”
He added: “The lads will lift themselves – they are a good team. We have lost two games but before that we won 15 straight games - we need to get that momentum back.
“The lads have to dust themselves down. They can play and know what I want and if they do that we can get back on track
“This is where the characters will stand up, people have to get on their game and be professional.”
The cup runs have left the Eagles with a busy end to the season, starting with Keighley Cougars tomorrow night.
Aston needs the team to cut out the poor decision making that twice allowed Leigh to come from behind to win 43-28 in the Rail Cup final.
Tries from Matt Garside, Menzie Yere and Misi Taulapapa gave the Eagles a 16-14 lead at half-time.
Prop Liam Higgins and Leigh’s Steve Maden were sent off for fighting but Eagles pushed out their lead to 24-16 with a Scott Turner try.
A chance to go further ahead was thrown away and an interception allowed Leigh back into the game with a flurry of tries before Tom Armstrong scored a consolation touchdown on the hooter.
Aston said: “We should have killed the game off but instead we gift wrapped it for Leigh by going away from the game plan.
“We were still in the game with 15 minutes to go when we were two points behind but we put ourselves under the pump.
“I could see it happening and there was nothing I could do. The lads were digging this hole and they kept digging.”