SHEFFIELD Eagles will need to dig deep tonight as they face the second leg of an away double header against the top two teams in the Championship.
They go to Featherstone Rovers only four days after a defeat at joint leaders Leigh Centurions.
“It’s a tough ask but we have to live with it,” said coach Mark Aston. “There’s not been much time for rehab but the lads are positive.”
Aston has been hammering home a message that his players must reduce the errors and slack play that gifted Leigh most of their points.
He was boosted by a late flurry of points with tries from Tim Bergin and Dane McDonald that earned a losing bonus point.
“We have to be more disciplined at Featherstone and the lads have to show more respect for what the coaching team want - when they do that we’re a good team. When we go away from that we come unstuck against good teams,” he said.
Rovers, coached by Eagles legend Daryl Powell, finished top of the league last season but lost out in the play-off Grand Final to Halifax. The Eagles were one of only two teams to beat Featherstone in the league last season – 32-30 at the Big Fellas Stadium.
This season Featherstone have again set the pace and have lost only one game in the Championship. Powell boosted his squad by signing Hull KR winger or fullback Ben Cockayne shortly before the transfer deadline.
The Eagles pack will be set the target of improving their ball control to blunt Featherstone’s strong set of forwards.
Back row forward Alex Szostak said: “We’ve not played Rovers this season and it will be a big test because they are a physical side with a lot of skill. Hopefully we can play our kind of game, keep them in the arm wrestle for as long as we can and let the fast lads do the work towards the end of the game.”
Featherstone have the advantage of not having played for seven days compared with four for the Eagles.
The swift turnaround has cut the chances of half-back Quentin Laulu-Togagae and loose forward Joe Hirst recovering from hamstring strains.
Tonight’s game is live on Sky Sports, kick-off 7.30pm.
Wigan prop Stuart Fielden has been ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing a pectoral muscle in training. The England international has only made one appearance this year.