Swinton Lions 24 Sheffield Eagles 28: Mark Aston's men bounce back with five tries in second win of season
Sheffield Eagles ended a run of five consecutive defeats in all competitions with a 24-28 victory at Swinton Lions.
After several heavy defeats, a much improved Eagles scored twice just after the break to take the game away from the hosts, and in the process collected their first victory on the road this season, despite a nervy finish.
Director of rugby Mark Aston gave a debut to new loan signing Jake Spedding at centre, with fellow loanee Liam Johnson missing out through a knee injury.
After facing high-flyers Hull Kingston Rovers and Featherstone in recent weeks, Eagles had the opportunity to leapfrog the Lions in the Championship table in this early-season basement clash.
It didn’t start well for Aston’s side when Swinton opened the scoring through a try from Mike Butt, but Chris Atkin failed with the conversion.
With Aston conceding confidence was low coming into the game he will have been bouyed by his side’s response. The ever reliable Menzie Yere ploughed his way across the whitewash to bring the scores level, but Simon Brown missed with the extras.
Eagles edged in front soon after through the boot of Brown after the Lions conceded a penalty, and put a firm stamp on the game when winger Gary Lo continued his recent impressive points tally with another score. Brown failed to add the two.
The end-to-end action continued as Swinton fought back through Jack Murphy’s try, but a failed conversion kept Eagles’ slender lead intact going into the break.
After recent second half capitulations Eagles on this occasion showed a mental toughness that has been lacking to date.
Crucially Aston’s side got the opening try of the second stanza when skipper Matty James crossed, and this time Brown converted.
It got better for Eagles, who were now visibly growing in confidence, as Elliot Minchella’s converted try put them in prime position for only their second victory of the season.
The game looked to be sealed when Sam Scott barged his way over the line for Eagles’ fifth try, and Brown slotted the extras.
It was a nervy finish though after Swinton narrowed the gap with converted tries from Sean Kenny and Anthony Bate.
A late Chris Hankinson try got the hosts within four points, but Eagles hung on for a priceless victory as Atkin missed the conversion.
* Swinton: Murphy; Robinson, Hankinson, Thornley, Butt; White, Atkin; Bracek, Nicholson, Lever; Dwyer, Davies; Bate. Interchange: Austin, Barlow, Kenny, Jones.
Scorers: Tries: Butt (15), Murphy (32) Kenny (70), Bate (75), Hankinson (78). Goals: Atkin 2/5.
* Eagles: Dean; Lo, Yere, Spedding, Blackmore; Brown, Minchella; Wheeldon, Fozard, Mexico; James, Straugheir; Hope. Interchange: Burns, Trout, Scott, Whiteley.
Scorers: Tries: Yere (18), Lo (24), James (43), Minchella (50), Scott (63) Goals: Brown 4/6.