Rugby League: Aston wants first class Eagles performance in Rail Cup derby

Eagles beat Doncaster earlier in the season
Eagles beat Doncaster earlier in the season

It’s the consolation Cup competition and even the venue is second choice - that doesn’t worry Sheffield Eagles.

Sponsors Northern Rail are rumoured to be about to close down the line but the Eagles want their name on the trophy.

The Eagles go to Doncaster tomorrow night (kick-off 7.30pm) in a game that guarantees a South Yorkshire team in the final.

The competition reserved for professional clubs outside the Super League doesn’t have the glamour of the Challenge Cup but it’s high on coach Mark Aston’s list.

“This is silverware there to be won,” he said. “We’ve never been to a Northern Rail Final and if this is to be the last one we want our name on the trophy.”

The Eagles will be favourites. They are unbeaten in 13 games - which equals the club record for a season - and they’ve beaten the Dons 32-26 in the league.

The derby edge has been added to by Aston’s comments on playing at the Doncaster Athletics Stadium and with the next door Keepmoat unavailable for pitch maintenance.

The Athletics venue has seating for 500 and a capacity of 2,500 but it’s the pitch that’s concerned Aston who described it as “dangerous in places”.

“It’s a semi-final and we’re playing on a park pitch, but we’ve just got to get on with it,” he added.

“Doncaster are in good form, they beat Featherstone a couple of weeks ago and they will be confident they can get to the final.

“Paul Cooke is a class half-back and playing well for them. It’s a derby game and a Cup game, that’s a cracking mix.”

In two weeks time the Eagles step into the Challenge Cup spotlight when they face Super League strugglers London Broncos in the quarter-final.

It’s being billed as a potential giant-killing but Aston and the players kept the focus with a dour 14-8 league win at Batley Bulldogs. It keeps them two points ahead at the top of the Championship.

Strong defending plus tries from Michael Knowles and Patch Walker in the first half with Duane Straugheir in the second earned the three points.

“Champion teams know how to win these games,” said Aston.

“We haven’t talked about the Challenge cup, it’s taboo. We have to look after Doncaster, then it’s back to the league, then we’ll talk about London Broncos.”

Eagles Championship match against Workington Town which was due to be played on Sunday 14 July will now be played on Wednesday 31 July at Don Valley Stadium, kick-off 7.30pm