SHEFFIELD Eagles produced a lack-lustre performance as they went down to their second successive defeat to Championship strugglers Halifax.
Coach Mark Aston was frustrated by his team’s inability to put their stamp on the game as they gave away a string of penalties and failed to control possession.
He said: “My disappointment is with our performance and the lack of respect for the work the backroom staff are doing. The lads didn’t follow the game plan, showed disrespect and got what they deserved, The attitude in defending was outstanding but we drained ourselves of energy, didn’t completing the sets and started to look ragged.”
Eagles suffered an early blow when scrum-half Simon Brown was knocked out in a clash of heads and stretchered off after eight minutes of treatment on the pitch. The loss of his precise kicking game was to prove critical as the team lacked ideas and allowed Fax to dictate the pace of the game.
Conceding 16 penalties added to the Eagles problems. They continually gave Fax the ball in crucial areas of the field – that pressure had to tell.
The opening try came when Sean Penkywicz’s long pass was taken by Stephen Bannister on the burst. Jones added the goal.
Fax were dominating possession before Eagles hit back. Winger Vinny Finigan’s line hugging break and pass inside sent Quentin Laulu-Togagae in to finish.
Eagles almost produced a second breakaway try but Taulapapa couldn’t take the final pass and Danny Mills was only a fingertip away from Kyle Wood’s chip.
Eagle took the lead with the increasingly influential hooker Alex Henderson producing a short low pass for second row Alex Szostak to dive in from five metres. Wood, like Stringer earlier, couldn’t add the two points.
On the stroke of half-time Henderson picked up a loose ball and ran 50 metres before just being caught in front of the posts by Lee Patterson.
Fax edged ahead 12 minutes after the restart when three penalties put them in the Eagles 20-metre zone with Penkywicz going in from dummy half.
Jones kicked two penalties to push Fax’s lead out to six points with 14 minutes left.
Eagles almost saved the game after a great break by Alex Rowe for Wood to find Finigan who went in by the flag. Stringer’s kick was just wide.
With two minutes left tempers boiled over, punches were thrown and Eagles’ Rowe and Fax’s Dylan Nash were shown yellow cards.
Eagles were left with their first bonus point of the season from a game they should have won.
Halifax: Greenwood, White, Paterson, Goddard, Worrincy; Jones, Beswick; Gannon, Penkywicz, Cherryholme, Smith, Bannister, Fairbank. Subs: Nash; Aizue, Clayton, Watene.
Tries: Bannister, 12, Penkywicz 52. Goals: Jones 3/ 4.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Mills, Yere, Crookes, Finigan; Wood, Brown; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Subs: Taulapapa, Hanson (not used), Rowe, Hepworth.
Tries: Laulu-Togagae, 19, Szostak, 30, Finigan 72. Goals: Stringer 0/2, Wood 0/1.
Referee: Warren Turley
Penalties: Halifax 16 Eagles 8