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Challenge Cup Round Four Preview – Sheffield Eagles v Oldham Roughyeds

This Sunday marks the start of Sheffield Eagles’ 2015 Challenge Cup campaign, when they host League 1’s Oldham Roughyeds at the Keepmoat Stadium. Oldham’s league season hasn’t kicked off yet but they have won three competitive matches in the past few weeks as they overcame Coventry Bears in both the Challenge Cup and iPro Sport Cup, as well as Barrow in the latter competition. Sheffield have had a good start to the season, winning four out of their first five matches in the Championship.

Last Time Out.. 

Sheffield Eagles recorded their fourth consecutive Kingstone Press Championship victory last weekend with a well-fought 14-12 triumph over Workington Town. The Eagles had Kyle Briggs to thank for bringing his kicking boots as his two conversions and a penalty goal from halfway proved crucial come the end of the tie. Menzie Yere scored the match’s only try of the first half on the 20th minute, after the Eagles soaked up a lot of pressure from the opposition in the opening quarter. Briggs tagged on the two points, as he did on the stroke of half-time with a penalty goal from the halfway line. Sheffield also had Michael Knowles in the sin-bin from the 37th minute for a shoulder charge, but the defence stood firm despite his ten minute absence. One minute after the second rower returned to the field, Sam Smeaton increased the Eagles’ advantage with a try in the far corner. Another spectacular goal from Briggs put his team more than two scores ahead but Town would fight back impressively. Sam Forrester and Perry Whiteley both scored converted tries in the last quarter of the match, but the hosts couldn’t get the match winning score as Sheffield took the spoils back to South Yorkshire.

Oldham progressed to the semi-final of the iPro Sport Cup after a very impressive 32-10 victory against Barrow at Craven Park. The Roughyeds were 10-0 down after 17 minutes after tries from Josh Ward and Anthony Nicholson, but they were the only points that Barrow would score in the clash. In the last eight minutes of the first half, Oldham accumulated 18 points thanks to converted tries by Michael Ward, Adam Clay and Huddersfield’s dual-registered winger Jodie Broughton. The procession continued after half-time, with another three tries going the way of the visitors. The trio of four pointers came courtesy of Broughton, Clay and Sam Gee. Scott Naylor’s side are now 80 minutes away from the Summer Bash at Blackpool, the cup final will be played as a curtain raiser to the whole event on the first day.

Key Battle 

I’ve gone for the half-backs for the key battle this week. Kyle Briggs was magnificent at Workington for Sheffield and was supplied by Cory Aston who was at scrum half in place of Dom Brambani. After the match, coach Mark Aston was asked whether Brambani would be back in for the Oldham game, which he replied: “100 percent, yes.” So the Briggs-Brambani pairing will be hoping to stand up and dominate Oldham’s half-back duo of Lewis Palfrey and Steve Roper. Palfrey converted four tries out of seven against Barrow whilst Roper put the Barrow back line under pressure with numerous bombs. He’ll be wanting to do the same at the weekend but it’ll have to be on point against good runners such as Quentin Laulu-Togagae and Rob Worrincy to name just two.

Prediction 

A lot of people will be hoping that ‘the magic of the cup’ makes an appearance in round four, but it’d be normal to suspect that the Eagles will have too much for their League 1 counterparts in this match – Sheffield by 28

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