In round six of the Qualifiers, Sheffield Eagles go back to the Steel City as they host Hull Kingston Rovers at Bramall Lane. Mark Aston’s side performed valiantly against Salford Red Devils last weekend but they couldn’t quite cause an upset. The Robins made it five wins from as many matches, they dominated Bradford Bulls in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
Last Time Out
Sheffield Eagles travelled to the AJ Bell Stadium, Salford, to take on the Red Devils. Despite going two scores up during the first half, Salford fought back and their Super League status shone through in attack. Weller Hauraki scored the first try of the afternoon before Sheffield struck on three occasions. Cory Aston, Menzie Yere and Quentin Laulu-Togagae all crossed the whitewash for the Championship side, who were putting on a masterclass of attacking rugby. Harrison Hansen replied for the hosts but Rob Worrincy made sure the intensity of the Eagles was displayed on the scoreboard as he rose highest to claim a bomb and score. Four tries for Salford in just over ten minutes put them in front at the break. Josh Griffin notched a brace, and further scores from Liam Hood and Lama Tasi turned the game on its head. 58 points were scored in the opening 40 minutes, the Red Devils led 34-24. Duane Straugheir showed great determination and strength to burrow his way over for four points, an instant statement by the Eagles. Niall Evalds then got his side on the second half scoreboard as the game entered its final quarter. Scott Turner’s converted try got Sheffield back to within six points of their top tier opponents, but a drop goal from Michael Dobson along with a try apiece for Iain Thornley and George Griffin killed any hope of a Sheffield triumph.
Hull Kingston Rovers had no problems dispatching Bradford Bulls last Saturday. A scoreline of 48-4 to the hosts would have been hard to envisage after 30 minutes when the scoreboard read 4-4. Danny Williams was sin-binned for a professional foul on eight minutes, in his absence came a try for Josh Mantellato. Bradford hit back through James Mendeika before Rovers ended the half well while the Bulls had another player sin-binned. Kieran Dixon and Mantellato both crossed the whitewash before half-time, and things got worse for James Lowes’ Bradford side in the 39th minute when Epalahame Lauaki was sent to the bin for an eye gouge. Dixon completed his brace whilst his side had a numerical advantage, Dane Chisholm also scored for the Super League outfit. Further tries in the second half came courtesy of Ken Sio and Kris Welham before Greame Horne got in on the try-scoring act. Dixon scored two more tries before the final hooter sounded, taking his tally to four for the game.
Cory Aston and Dom Brambani were the two half-backs for Sheffield against Salford, and the former even got on the scoresheet after a flowing move. Brambani’s experience complements Aston, and the young half-back has improved since the start of this season and the Sheffield club will hope he keeps on progressing. Matty Marsh and Dane Chisholm started in the halves for Hull KR last weekend, while Maurice Blair, who can also cover at half-back, started in the back-row. The Robins have decent depth but Chris Chester knows his side will be playing Super League rugby next season so he may add a few of the younger lads in for the trip to Bramall Lane.
After coming close to upsetting Salford, the Eagles will be wanting to claim a Super League scalp over the next two rounds. With Wakefield Trinity Wildcats still to play, this is a good opportunity for Mark Aston to assess the players who are staying on after this season while the others will be wanting to go out on a high. Unfortunately, though, Hull KR will be wanting to keep their unblemished record intact and it’ll take a very good team to dismantle them – Hull KR by 16.
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