SHEFFIELD Eagles hope to overturn the formbook and gain a place in their first Championship Grand Final when they face Leigh Centurions tonight.
The Eagles have played Leigh three times this season – losing all the games including a dismal 68-6 hammering in the Northern Rail Cup.
That was back in February and it is a very different and motivated Eagles team that has moved smoothly through two play-off rounds.
The Eagles fell at the semi-final hurdle last season to eventual winners Halifax but avenged that with a 50-12 win last Sunday.
It’s given captain Jack Howieson the belief that they can defeat a team that finish second in the league – losing only one game.
“Obviously we’re really happy by the way we played and put 50 points on a quality team (Halifax). If we had played that way against anyone in our league we would have beaten them,” he said.
“We just need to keep going, we got to the semi-final last year but came down with a crash with a bit of thrashing from Halifax. Now we have to stay focused and make sure that everything is in place when we go out and play Leigh.”
The way Halifax were brushed aside was impressive with eight tries including two from Dane McDonald, who was impressive at stand-off.
The winner of tonight’s clash, which is live on Sky Sports (kick-off 7.30pm), will face Featherstone Rovers in the Grand Final with a £100,000 prize at stake.
Papua New Guinea international centre Menzie Yere will return for the Eagles after a two-match suspension. Yere scored two tries when the Eagles won 26-24 at Leigh in the first round of the play-offs last season.
On the downside the team have had only four days to recover after beating Halifax at Bramall Lane last Sunday. Leigh have had a full week of rehab after losing to 35-20 to Rovers in the first qualifying semi-final.
Howieson added: “Going to Leigh will be tough but the lads believe we can make the Grand Final – the challenge is to hit the standards we’ve set.
“Hitting the standards consistently has been what we have struggled with all year so it’s a big ask for us but if we hit the standards we will win.”