Sheffield Eagles: Leaders urged to stay focused

Mitch Stringer is nursing a back problem.
Mitch Stringer is nursing a back problem.

Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston says it would take the gloss off the season if his team fell at the last hurdle in the bid to take a first Championship leader’s shield.

In a nail-biting finish the Eagles can take the trophy if they win at second-placed Featherstone Rovers this week.

Eagles are three points ahead but Rovers can take over top spot with one game to play - on points scored difference if they win and deny Aston’s team a losing bonus.

“It was always going to come to this,” said Aston. “It’s going to be interesting. Both teams are going to rip in and it’ll be a fascinating game and one that people should come and watch.

“We have to win it; we’ve won 15 league games now and it would take the gloss off a great season if we don’t go to Featherstone and win and take the leader’s shield.”

Rovers kept up the pressure with a 52-4 win over Whitehaven but the Eagles left questions as they struggled to beat relegation threatened Hunslet 36-26.

Aston is pondering changes for Wednesday’s trip to the Big Fella’s Stadium with forwards Joe Hirst and Colton Roche rested for the Hunslet game.

He has the added worry of captain and prop forward Mitch Stringer going off early in the game with a back problem.

Top try scorer Menzie Yere was pulled off as a precaution with an ankle strain but is expected to be fit. Matt Garside, Duane Straugheir and Andrew Henderson came back after injury without problems.

“Mitch’s back seized up but he’s the ultimate professional and hopefully he’ll recover,” said Aston. “There’s Colton Roche and Joe Hirst who has to come back into the mix and we missed both of them against Hunslet.

“The boys who came back after a week out looked little bit rusty and it was good to give them that run out.”

Wigan, meanwhile, beat Hull FC 16-0 at Wembley to win a record 19th Challenge Cup final on Saturday.