It’s desperate times for Sheffield Eagles as they slumped to a sixth home league defeat of the season in a 32-14 loss to Halifax.
Alarm bells are starting to ring as the defending champions slip ever closer to the relegation places.
“We’re still digging and if we keep on we’ll end up in Australia,” said coach Mark Aston. “We are where we are and there were a lot of dead men walking out there today and that puts me in not a great position.”
Eagles were on the back foot for most of the game and two late tries couldn’t disguise a lacklustre performance.
Individuals battled with young prop Eddie Battye putting in a couple of big spells and winger Misi Taulapapa combative but the team lacked answers.
Fax, with a team packed with forwards and without a specialist centre, dominated possession with the main tormentor scrum-half Scott Murrell given too much space and time and fullback Ryan Fieldhouse was a threat.
Murrell started a sweeping passing move that saw Adam Robinson send in winger Peter Fox at the corner for the opening try. Former Eagles half-back Simon Brown kicked the first of two touchline goals.
There was no let up as Tommy Saxton’s offload sent centre Callum Casey over by the other flag and Fox claimed his second try from a Murrell chip kick.
Eagles had the chance of an easy two points with a penalty in the dying seconds but ran the ball to no effect and Fax led 16-0 at the break.
The second half started disastrously with Walker making a break but his inside pass was gleefully intercepted by Fieldhouse to race in under the posts. Murrell added the goal.
Eagles’ spirits were lifted with Quentin Laulu-Toagage taking Mitch Stringer’s offload before backing himself to race in from 60 metres.
Fax hit back with Murrell and Saxton sending in Casey for his second try.
A break by Ben Johnson set up the position for Luke Adamson to force his way over, taking three Eagles tacklers with him. Murrell added the goal.
A series of penalties set up a late flurry by the Eagles with Battye and Andrew Henderson going close before Dominic Brambani found a way through to the line and added the goal.
In the final minute Menzie Yere squeezed in at the corner from Henderson’s pass but it was scant consolation.
* Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Ashton, Yere, Straugheir, Taulapapa; Walker, Brambani; Battye, Henderson, Stringer, Garside, Hope, Knowles. Subs: Owen, Lillycrop, Green, Tagaloa.
Tries: Quentin-Laulu-Togaage 55, Brambani 76, Yere 80. Goals: Walker 0/1, Brambani 1/ 2.
* Halifax: Fieldhouse; Fox, Robinson, Casey, Saxton; Brown, Murrell; Tonks, Kaye, Ambler, Adamson, Divorty, Bracek. Subs: Mennell, Johnston, Brooks, Spencer.
Tries: Fox 14, 36, Case 21, 60, Fieldhouse 44, Adamson 71. Goals: Brown 2/ 3, Murrell 2/ 3.
Referee: Tom Crashley.