Eagles left to rue second half collapse

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IN recent weeks Sheffield Eagles have been staging great second-half comebacks – this time they were on the receiving end.

Featherstone – coached by Eagles’ legend Daryl Powell – made virtually certain of their second successive league leaders’ title by hitting the Eagles for five unanswered tries in the final 40 minutes. Yet Eagles had been the better side and had led 12-6 at half-time. They had plenty of possession but were given a lesson on taking chances.Coach Mark Aston said: “I’m disappointed by the second 40; we have to learn to play for 80 minutes.

“We looked frustrated at times and disorganised.”

Aston had shuffled his team starting Jonny Woodcock at full-back with Hull KR bound Misi Taulapapa at centre and Eddie Battye in for injured prop Jack Howieson. A tense opening was marked by handling errors and a missed penalty attempt by Eagles.The deadlock was broken when hooker Andrew Henderson split the Rovers line and raced 40 metres before passing to Joe Hirst to finish. Brown added the goal and a penalty soon after. Rovers came back with an opportunist break from dummy half by Tommy Saxton, catching Eagles off guard.

A great solo try by Vinny Finigan in the final minutes of the half halted any Rovers revival. The loan winger took a high kick from Jon Hepworth in front of his own posts and went on a weaving run that ended with a try to give Sheffield a 12-6 lead at half-time.

It started to go wrong for the Eagles after six minutes of the second half as Ben Cockayne scored after a 40 metre break.

Centre Greg Worthington forced his way over through a pack of tacklers and Liam Finn’s touchline goal put Rovers ahead for the first time.

Two soft tries with substitute half-back Andy Kain following up his own chip kicks put the game out of the Eagles reach and Rovers added a late try from full back Ian Hardman. In the final minute centre Menzie Yere was shown a yellow card and put on report for a tackle that left Jon Hepworth out cold.

Eagles: Woodcock; Finigan, Yere, Taulapapa, Bergin; McDonald, Brown; Hepworth, Henderson, Stringer, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Subs: Laulu-Togage, Smith, Scott, Battye.

Tries: Hirst 19, Finigan 36; Goals: Brown 2/4.

Rovers: Hardman; Cockayne, Smeaton, Worthington, Saxton; Hepworth, Finn; Tonks, Kaye, Dickens, Grayshon, Spears, Dale. Subs: Kain, Netherton, Bostock, Divorty.

Tries: Saxton 31, Cockayne 46, Worthington 53, Kain 64, 70, Hardman 73. Goals: Finn 5/6.

Attendance: 1,336