Sheffield Eagles will be under no illusion of just how hard the Super 8s will be, after another drubbing at the hands of Bradford Bulls at Odsal at the weekend.
Any pre-Super 8 optimism built from the home victory over the Bulls was crushed within 15 minutes; as James Lowes’ side dominated the opening exchanges before going on to inflict a convincing victory over Mark Aston’s Eagles in the first round of Super 8 fixtures.
The Eagles will have seen this game as one they might have got something from, but any faint hopes of an upset were crushed emphatically as Bradford ran in eight tries to leave Aston and his players licking their wounds.
“At the end of the day I am gutted,” the Eagles Director of Rugby said.
“We came here to show what we are all about and we let ourselves down. Credit to Bradford, they were good and we knew that they were going to be good, and yet we didn’t respond to it. We have got a lesson coming to Odsal again; we just have to move on to next week.”
Aston’s side are the Super 8 outsiders but they have shown they are capable of mixing it with the game’s elite after encouraging performances in recent outings. There is no doubt in Aston’s mind that the defeat to Bradford was a step backwards in terms of performance, and he conceded that his team will have to improve with the standard of opposition to set to increase.
“There was a bit of soul searching going on in the sheds, the players have to be on honest with themselves,” he added.
“They have to prepare themselves for this because week in, week out for the next six weeks this is the standard that they are going to face. We now need to know if we are good enough to stand up and bounce back from what was a poor performance.”
Aston is perhaps now ruing the time off he gave to his players following the end of the regular season, promising no more rest days ahead of the game with Widnes Vikings on Sunday.
“We gave them a few days off, did it work? At this stage of the season that’s what clubs do, but we haven’t responded in the positive manner that I would have hoped,” he conceded.
“They won’t be getting a few days off this week that is for certain. It is back to the drawing board.”