THERE quite a bit of history between Sheffield Eagles and Halifax after the events of last season. It will certainly add an edge when the teams meet at Bramall Lane on Sunday.
Halifax did the double in the league last year and ended the Eagles season with a play-off semi-final win before going on to victory in the Grand Final.
Fax have lost their two opening Championship games this season but coach Mark Aston sees Sunday’s clash as a big test after back-to-back wins for the Eagles.
“We can’t underestimate Halifax – they have got quality in their squad. They’ve not had a great start in the league – they lost to Featherstone last week but at times ran Fev ragged,” said Aston.
“We’re going into a week off and the best way to do that is keep the momentum going by making it three wins. Halifax put us out of the play-offs last season and we’re still a bit sore about that.”
A win over Halifax would set the Eagles up before three away games. After Sunday’s game (kick-off 3pm) the Eagles have a free weekend before away trips to Dewsbury and Batley and the Challenge Cup fourth round game at St Helens.
Former Eagles winger Rob Worrincy, who has scored tries in each of his last 11 games, will be a big danger for Fax.
There’ll be a warm welcome for forward Sam Barlow on his return to Sheffield. Legal action was threatened last season when Fax played Barlow in the play-off semi-final following his controversial move to his home town club. It ended in an apology by Halifax and compensation – but Barlow scored one of the tries that ended Eagles Grand Final hopes.
A repeat of the first half performance against Toulouse Olympique could see the Eagles well on their way to a hat-trick of wins.
Five of the Eagles six tries came in the first 40 minutes with half-backs Kyle Wood and Simon Brown outstanding and loose forward Joe Hirst and centre Menzie Yere both scoring two tries. Then the attacking flair faded and in a dour second half the team seemed content to hone their defensive skills.
That didn’t please Aston. He said: “In the first half our kicking game was outstanding and we opened Toulouse up. We defended well but I wasn’t happy about the second half and I’ve let the lads know it. We have to play to the game plan for the full 80 minutes.”
Aston should have prop Jack Howieson back after missing the Toulouse game with a groin strain but stand-in Eddie Battye made a strong case to keep a place in the 17.