Aaron Brown scored a hat-trick as Sheffield Eagles won the inaugural AB Sundecks 1895 Cup with a 36-18 victory over Widnes Vikings at Wembley. Here’s our verdict…
The Eagles trailed 18-12 at half-time but got four tries in the second period and managed to keep the Vikings scoreless to taste victory on their return to the scene of their famous Challenge Cup final win over Wigan Warriors in 1998.
The game was held up for eight minutes early on when Widnes hooker Jordan Johnstone sustained a nasty facial injury.
Widnes put the injury to the back of their minds and went 12-0 up with two tries in three minutes.
The first came after an Eagles error 20 metres from their own tryline presented Widnes with a golden opportunity, as second rower Harrison Hansen profited from a clever offload by winger Patrick Ah Van to open the scoring.
Widnes got another one straight from the kick-off, with Chris Dean going over, and Jack Owens added the extras for the second time.
Sheffield pulled a try back through centre Brown after 22 minutes and levelled the match four minutes later when scrum-half Anthony Thackeray, a former Widnes player, stole the ball in a one-on-one tackle from Owens and raced away to touch down. Pat Walker kicked both conversions.
Sheffield full-back Josh Guzdek had a try disallowed for a forward pass before the Vikings struck six minutes before half-time through scrum-half Tom Gilmore to regain the lead, with Owens kicking his third goal to make it 18-12 at the break.
Sheffield were next to score, inside two minutes of the re-start, when Walker’s towering kick wrong-footed Widnes winger Jayden Hatton and second rower Joel Farrell pounced on the loose ball to touch down.
Walker was wide with the conversion attempt to leave his side trailing 18-16 but the Eagles went in front for the first time on 49 minutes when Brown grabbed his second try, following a break by winger Ben Blackmore.
This time Walker added the goal to make it 22-18.
Walker was wide with a penalty that would have stretched the lead but Sheffield maintained the pressure and loose forward Corey Makelim went over for their fourth try on 55 minutes.
Walker kicked his fourth goal to make it 28-18 before missing another penalty.
Widnes made a host of handling errors as they began to chase the game and, from one of them, Brown pounced for his third try five minutes from the end.
Walker added the conversion and kicked a last-second penalty to wrap up the victory.
Three Times The Charm
It was fair to say that Widnes were the favourites going into this game, as they had won three quarters of their previous meetings with Sheffield.
But for the Eagles their strong performance clinched their third win in nine years, and it’s look the deficit is going to be reduced in years to come.
Two Is The Magic Number
It was over 20 years ago when Sheffield Eagles shocked the world, winning the Challenge Cup over Wigan in 1998.
Mark Aston was appointed the man-of-the-match and now two decades later he lead Sheffield from the terraces and helped clinch another trophy at Wembley.
The Eagles have only appeared at Wembley twice and both times won two different competitions, it is fair to say Sheffield love playing here!
The First Ever
As I’m writing this match report, I can’t help but not feature my brother Josh Guzdek, who was the first in our family to win at Wembley Stadium.
It was a certainly a historic moment and one that we will treasure in our rich history.
They Go Again
Despite both teams having different opinions on how the day unfolded. The Championship still continues and the play-offs are still up for grabs.
Sheffield + 36
Tries: Brown (22,49,76), Thackeray (26), Farrell (42), Makelim (55)
Goals: Thackeray (6)
Drop Goals: n/a
Widnes + 18
Tries: Hansen (14), Dean (16), Gilmore (35)
Goals: Owens (3)
Drop Goals: n/a
Sheffield: Josh Guzdek, Ryan Millar, Ben Hellewell, Aaron Brown, Ben Blackmore, Pat Walker, Anthony Thackeray, Shaun Pick, Greg Burns, Bradley Knowles, Oliver Davies, Joel Farrell, Corey Makelim.
Interchanges: James Davey, Blake Broadbent, Patrick Burns, Nathan Moss.
Widnes: Jack Owens, Jayden Hatton, Anthony Gelling, Keanan Brand, Patrick Ah Van, Danny Craven, Tom Gilmore, Ted Chapelhow, Jordan Johnstone, Hep Cahill, Harrison Hansen, Chris Dean, Brad Walker.
Interchanges: Jay Chapelhow, Sam Wilde, MacGraff Leuluai, Dan Norman.