SHEFFIELD Eagles could be forgiven for thinking they have done the hard work - and now it’s time to cash in.
Wins over Leigh and Featherstone have confirmed their place as one of the main challengers at the top of the Championship.
Coach Mark Aston is determined that his team doesn’t lose direction with a run of games against teams well below them in the league coming up.
“There’s no point in doing all this work and beating teams like Leigh and Featherstone and then losing the ones you should win,” he said.
“It’s looking good and we have to enjoy this, but it doesn’t put us top of the league.
“It makes a statement of our intention.”
First up is a potentially tricky trip to Hunslet Hawks on Sunday, followed by Doncaster at home and Whitehaven away over the Easter weekend.
Hunslet’s three wins this season have all been at South Leeds Stadium.
A partnership deal gives the Hawks access to Leeds Rhinos players, including centre Jimmy Keinhorst who played for the Super League club in last season’s Challenge Cup final.
Aston says the team must stay focused: “The key is that we don’t fall in love with ourselves,” he said.
“Now we have to raise the bar because every team is going to try and beat us.
“Hunslet have got some form at home. The lads will be kept on their toes and we won’t be soft on each other.”
The Eagles showed determination as they ended Featherstone’s 100 per cent record. They went ahead early with a Michael Knowles try but the lead changed hands four times.
Tom Armstrong’s sixth try of the season on half-time kept the Eagles in touch at 10-12 and they edged ahead for a spell with a Menzie Yere try.
Rovers were leading by two points going into the final ten minutes but tries from Scott Turner and Yere’s second, plus three goals from Dominic Brambani, gave Eagles a 26-18 win.
Prop forward Ben Gledhill, who made his debut after signing on loan from Salford Reds, is likely to keep his place at Hunslet.
Aston could also take the opportunity to give a run out to Italian international utility forward Dario Esposito who joined from Dewsbury two weeks ago.