Aston’s recipe: Rest and wins for Eagles

Duane Straugheir
Duane Straugheir
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Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston won’t back off from making changes when the team defends a 10-match winning run against Whitehaven.

Aston nursed his players through three crucial wins in 10 days but admits it has taken a toll.

“”We looked lethargic last weekend but we won. Maybe if we can give someone a rest who deserves one that’s what we will do, he said.

“We have to get the right blend and get back to having stability in the team. That’s the key to getting the consistency back in our play.”” Whitehaven were the last team to beat the Eagles back in April.

Since then a run of wins has seen Eagles take over as Championship leaders and make the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup and the Northern Rail trophy.

A win over Whitehaven at Don Valley Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm) has the double value of wiping out that defeat and preserving Eagles’ two-point advantage at the top of the Championship.

“”We’re top of the league and we want to stay there,”” said Aston. “”We always aim to make an improvement and raise the bar with every game.

“”We had a tough week with three games and just scraped through. Now it’s one game a week so we can settle down and aim to make those important little improvements.

“”I don’t know what the record is for the club winning games on the trot but we’ve got to 10 [wins] and we want to keep that momentum going.””

Aston’s focus for changes is likely to fall on the forwards where he has been able to rest several players over the last week.

Duane Straugheir is fit again after missing the 20-18 win at Barrow with a groin strain and fellow back rower or centre Matt Garside was also rested for that game. It could see Joe Hirst, who played in all three games, given a break.

Prop Liam Higgins made a strong return after three months out and will be hoping to start. Colton Roche is available after a hand injury with Eddie Battye and Ben Gledhill also challenging for a front row role.

London Broncos, who the Eagles face in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup next month, have been hit by the loss of playmaker Craig Gower. The experienced scrum-half has been released from the last 18 months of his contract and is returning to Australia.