Sheffield Eagles were unable to open the defence of their Championship title as they were edged out 18-10 by rivals Halifax in a scrappy game.
Eagles defended well but struggled going forward and had to settle for losing bonus point from a game where all the tries came in the first half.
Coach Mark Aston included four of his new signings with centre Tom Armstrong and stand-off Patch Walker starting. On the bench was hooker James Davey and forward Colton Roche. One of the new boys Walker set up the opening try for the Eagles after four minutes with a chip kick that was touched down by second row forward Michael Knowles. Walker put the conversion wide.
The lead didn’t last with Ross Divorty taking a high kick as the Eagles hesitated and Paul Handforth adding the goal.
Fax were moving the ball faster and, helped by penalties, dominated possession before they increased the lead with a try from Handforth.
The score was back level when the Eagles switched play to the right with a high ball and winger Misi Taulapapa went in at the corner. Walker added the goal.
Fax edged ahead 16-10 four minutes from the break with Ryan Fieldhouse taking a high ‘bomb’ under the posts and Handforth kicked the goal.
The pressure stayed on the Eagles after the restart and they were trapped in their final 20 metre zone for long spells. Fax were met by determined Eagles defending and as play turned scrappy Handforth attempted a penalty but his kick was wide.
Dominic Brambani crossed the line in a rare Eagles excursion into the Fax half but his effort was ruled out by the video ref in a game televised live on satellite channel Premier Sports.
Fax extended their lead with a penalty from Handford on 71 minutes.
*Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Morrison, Yere, Armstrong, Taulapapa; Walker, Brambani; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Green, Szostak. Subs: Davey, Roche, Straugheir, Higgins.
* Attendance: 1,553.