We won’t panic

Sheffield Eagles v Leigh....Eagles Jack Howieson gets to grips with Leighs Steve Nash
Sheffield Eagles v Leigh....Eagles Jack Howieson gets to grips with Leighs Steve Nash

IT’S become a famous slogan but Sheffield Eagles really are determined to ‘keep calm and carry on’.

The second half of the league season didn’t open the way it was planned with a disappointing performance in a 40-12 defeat at Leigh Centurions.

But for club captain Jack Howieson, there’s no reason to start pressing the panic button.

“It happens like that in a long season, sometimes you have good patches then you get knocked back down to earth and you have to rebuild and look to the next game,” said the Scottish international prop.

“Even though we have lost we’re still in the top six and there’ll be a few more upsets and changes in that top six as the season goes on. I wouldn’t worry yet.”

The Eagles have a great opportunity to show their resilience when they face Hunslet Hawks in the quarter-finals of the Northern Rail Cup at Don Valley Stadium, tomorrow evening (7.30pm).

Hunslet have been hit badly by injuries to key players this season and have struggled in the league, winning only one game. In the second round of the Championship the Eagles won 40-22 at South Leeds.

Howieson says the squad will be out to show their true form and move closer to a place in the final: “We have a much higher league position than Hunslet but it won’t be an easy game.

“It’s a quarter final of the Rail Cup and if we win we’ll have made history as our first semi-final. We want to go all the way.

“It will take a lot of hard work and Hunslet will definitely come to our place ready. When we played at Hunslet we had a good first half but they showed us what they can do in the second.”

Defeat at Leigh gave the Lancashire team a league double and denied the Eagles a chance to go top of the Championship.

Hesitant defence saw the Eagles go 12 points down but they recovered to level the score at half-time with tries from second row Michael Knowles and fullback Quentin Laulu-Togagae’s 20th of the season.

Early errors set a pattern from the restart and the Eagles were never in the game as an attacking force as Leigh ran in five more tries without reply.

“We were trying to do what we were told to do but not doing it to the right skill level,” said Howieson.

“When you are making mistakes and your completion rate is poor the discipline goes.”

Coach Mark Aston is considering changes, and has options in the forwards in Ryan Hepworth and Sam Scott. The choice in the backs is more limited but centre or back rower Duane Straugheir offers an option off the bench.