Lucky 13 wins? No Eagles deserved it!

Misi Taulapapa - a leader
Misi Taulapapa - a leader

It may not be pretty but Sheffield Eagles’ coach Mark Aston isn’t worried as long as his team stay top of the Championship.

The Eagles showed themselves masters of difficult conditions - as in torrential rain - whenthey ground out a 14-8 victory at Batley.

It put six points between the Eagles and third-placed Batley at the top of the table and boosted hopes of a first ever league leaders’ shield.

“We are getting used to winning ugly,” said Aston.

“We came to Batley and got the result and showed our credentials and it’s 13 straight wins now.

“Champion teams know how to win these games, it was always going to be tough when you are playing first against third.

“There are not many teams that come to Batley and have it easy.

“We have had two tough tussles with Batley this season and beat them both times – and that’s good against what is a really strong team.”

The coach added: “Andrew Henderson was outstanding in his first spell, Michael Knowles was strong, Misi Taulapapa was a leader out there, he rolled his sleeves up and got in there – that’s what you get from Misi.”

Playing up Batley’s sloping pitch in the first half the Eagles took the lead with tries from Knowles – his third in two games - and Patch Walker. In a dour second half they extended the advantage with a try from Duane Straugheir.

Aston said: “The conditions didn’t enhance our style of play. In the first half we were pretty smart, we played the ball in the right areas, we kicked at the right time and chased really well.

“We defended well and in the second half they only scored two points from a penalty so it’s back to back weeks when we’ve prevented a team from scoring for long spells.

“I’m really pleased with the boys.”

As a reward Aston has given his players the weekend off before they start the build up to the Northern Rail Cup semi-final at Doncaster next Friday evening.

“It’s going great, we go into the Rail Cup and then have nine games to go in the league,” he said. “We’re top of the league, a semi-final of a cup coming up and everyone is busting to be in the team.”