Eagles seek return to winning ways

Sheffield Eagles v batley Bulldogs'Misi Taulapapa is halted by Batleys defence
Sheffield Eagles v batley Bulldogs'Misi Taulapapa is halted by Batleys defence

SHEFFIELD Eagles know there is no room for error when they face Barrow Raiders tonight.

Their fourth place in the Championship is on the line as the Eagles make a return to Don Valley Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm).

A victory is needed to boost confidence after the Eagles’ three-match winning run was halted with a 38-24 defeat at Widnes Vikings.

That result opened up the battle for the final three places in the play-offs with Widnes only a point behind the Eagles and Barrow able to take over in fourth slot if they win tonight.

The Eagles go into the game – being shown live on Sky Sports - after only four days break but Barrow didn’t play at the weekend.

Coach Mark Aston said: “Barrow will be a bit fresher than us because they have played Featherstone last Thursday so have had a week to prepare.

“It was hot at Widnes and the pitch was hard and we’re a bit busted up but the lads are fit and can back up well.

“After tonight we have three weeks without a game and we want to go into that break on a win.”

Aston will demand more control from his squad after errors cost them vital ball control at Widnes.

“We went to Widnes to do a job and we didn’t,” he said. “There were a lot of errors. I was disappointed because our completion rate was very poor and we didn’t build enough pressure to challenge to win the game.

“I can’t fault the lads for effort but we have to give ourselves a chance and to do that we need to complete at 85 per cent, at Widnes it was less than 50 per cent.”

The Eagles were down 22-0 at Widnes before tries either time of half-time got them back into the game. A head injury to full back Misi Taulapapa forced a reorganisation and although the team finished strongly they missed out on a losing bonus point.

Taulapapa, who had stitches in a head wound is expected to play tonight wearing a scrum cap as protection.

n SHEFFIELD’S bid to host games in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup went under the microscope this week.

The Rugby Football League’s appraisal team inspected Bramall Lane Stadium – the showpiece venue for games - and training facilities across the city.

A joint bid to bring rugby league’s showcase event has been launched by Sheffield United, Sheffield Eagles, the City Council and Hallam University.

United’s state-of-the-art training base at Shirecliffe and the fitness centre at Hallam University are seen as big positives plus hotels like the Copthorne on the Bramall Lane site.

The successful host cities will be announced in November.

Eagles’ boss Mark Aston, who will coach Ireland in the competition, said: “We’ve got a strong bid with great facilities and we’re confident.”