There will be no psychological upper hand says Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston, after his side were beaten by Batley in their Championship Shield semi-final dress rehearsal.
The Eagles suffered their fourth defeat in five outings at Mount Pleasant, as they prepare to enter the same stage on Sunday, but this time in a win or bust scenario.
In the final round of regular Championship Shield fixtures, the Eagles chief opted to rest some of his squad’s key members, with the likes of Garry Lo and skipper Matty James sidelined ahead of this Sunday’s showdown.
Batley’s victory, their third over the Eagles this season, may well have given them the edge in some eyes, but Aston maintains that the result will have little impact as the two sides prepare to do battle in their crunch clash this weekend.
“A semi-final is different. It is do or die. Your season is either finished, or you are in the final,” Aston told The Star.
“I don’t think the game we have played will have any bearing on it. I don’t believe that this weekend will give any team a real noticeable advantage.
“You might have a better week smiling on the Monday morning at the training ground, but it won’t count for much come the next game day.
“It is always nice to get a result, but I really don’t think that it will have much of a bearing when we do it all again in a semi-final, with a place in the final at stake. There is a different intensity and you just cannot match that scenario.”
With the season entering its climax, Aston has been careful in his selection admitting a number of his troops were carrying injuries.
Despite being a dead rubber encounter, it was another bruising afternoon for the Eagles, who also lost prop Scott Wheeldon after he was red carded for an off the ball incident with Dane Manning.
Aston now must patch up his remaining troops this week, as he bids for one last big effort from his side.
“There are a number of lads carrying knocks at the moment, but it is up to us to keep them going for the last few weeks,” he added.
“It is a time when people are starting to look battered and bruised and then it becomes about the mental attitude to get yourself up for the game.”