Sheffield Eagles took a 60-16 mauling from Castleford Tigers as they were put out of the Challenge Cup.
An injury-hit Eagles kept battling with fullback Quentin Laulu-Togagae providing a threat coming into the line but they couldn’t match the power of the team second in the Super League in the fifth round game at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Coach Mark Aston was proud of the way his team challenged Castleford particularly in the second half.
“We gave it a dig, Castleford play an exciting brand of football and it’s not easy,” he said. “But we had a go and we can take confidence from that.”
The teams last met in the Challenge Cup in 1998 when the Eagles were on their way to Wembley and hopes of an upset were sparked as Dominic Brambani and Laulu-Tagagae sent in winger Scott Turner after only three minutes. The dream was shattered as winger Justin Carney scored two tries as Cas turned on the pressure and pinned the Eagles in their own half.
Andrew Henderson, facing his old club, was keeping the Eagles sharp at the ruck but Cas counter-punched with tries from Grant Millington and Ashley Gibson and Kirk Dixon kicking the first of two goals.
Tries from Dixon and Jamie Ellis and Daryl Clark and Carney, completing his hat-trick, gave Cas a 36-4 lead at half-time.
Eagles went for the Tigers from the restart with centre Duane Straugheir knocking the ball out of a Cas player’s hand to touch down with Brambani adding the goal.
Cas hit back with Jordan Tansey and Ellis going in. Oliver Holmes’ try took Cas past 50 points with 20 minutes to go but Eagles kept battling with Laulu-Togagae sending in Tom Ashton for a try in only his second senior game and Brambani added the goal.
Jordan Burke was held up over the line and Ashton – who finished the game with a broken nose – was forced into touch.
Carney scored his fourth try in the closing minutes and Marc Sneyd, who had taken over the goal kicking, landed four.
* Castleford: Tansey: Dixon, Gibson, Shenton, Carney; Ellis, Finn; Wheeldon, Milner, Huby, Holmes, Webster, Millington. Subs: Sneyd, Massey, Clark, Mariano. Tries: Carney 7, 11, 39, 73, Millington 16, Gibson 18, Dixon 28, Ellis 32, 53, Clark 34, Tansey 50, Holmes 59. Goals: Dixon 2/8. Sneyd 4/4.
* Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Hanson, Straugheir, Burke; Walker, Brambani; Lillycrop, Henderson, Green, Garside, Aspinall, Taulapapa. Subs: Davey, Blagbrough, Tagaloa, Ashton. Tries: Turner 3, Straugheir 43, Ashton 63. Goals: Brambani 2/3.