Sheffield Eagles will still be licking their wounds from what turned into a bruising 46-6 Summer Bash defeat against London Broncos on Saturday.
The inaugural event at Blackpool FC’s Bloomfield Road may have been roundly applauded as a major success, but that will be no comfort to Eagles supremo Mark Aston as he was forced to watch his side take a pounding at the hands of his former player Andrew Henderson’s London.
The Broncos were inspired when head coach Henderson took the decision to come out of retirement and start at hooker, his first competitive game since he left the Eagles, with former Bradford Bulls coach Brian Noble directing traffic from the stand as coaching consultant.
After a convincing 40-6 demolition of the Broncos in the second round of the Kingstone Press Championship at the Keepmoat Stadium, few would have predicted an Eagles capitulation.
Sheffield were caught completely cold as London took control of the game with a devastating opening 30 minutes which all but sealed the match, with Aston’s side being made to pay for not being at the races.
The Eagles looked jaded and they won’t have been helped by very little time to recover to what was a physically demanding effort in the victory over Dewsbury Rams on the Tuesday prior to the game.
Their normally imperious defence, which has been the foundation of the Eagles success, was springing leaks all over the park as the Broncos ran riot with tries from Elliot Kear (2), Rhys Williams, Ben Hellewell and Oscar Thomas, all coming inside the half hour mark.
Aston’s side had their best moments of the match in the final 10 minutes of the first half when Cory Aston showed a glimpse of his burgeoning talent, after he danced his way through to score and give the Eagles a slither of hope.
Any momentum that the Eagles built at the back end of the first half was emphatically extinguished after an error-strewn start to the second period.
The Broncos reaffirmed their control of the game with Thomas recording his second try of the afternoon before completing his hat-trick on the hour mark. Williams bagged his second try and London’s eighth, whilst Wes Naiqama converted seven out of eight attempts to put further gloss on a punishing scoreline for the Eagles.
Aston’s side, who tasted defeat for only the fourth time in the league this season, will have to pick themselves up for a trip to Hunslet on Friday night.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy, Aston, Brambani, Battye, Carlile, Stringer, Langley, Straugheir, Taulapapa. Interchange: Davey, Davies, Tonks, Thorpe.
Scorers: Tries: Aston (33) Goals: Brambani 1/1
London: Kear; Williams, Hellewell, Naiqama, Macani, Thomas, Gilmore, Lovegrove, Henderson, Thackray, Harrison, Garside, Minchella. Interchange: Nasso, Davis, Wallace, Everett.
Scorers: Tries: Kear (5, 17), Williams (11, 68), Hellewell (14), Thomas (27, 48, 60).
Goals: Naiqama 7/8
Referee: Chris Kendall