‘Poor’ Eagles crash in thriller

Menzie Yere during a two-try performance against  Batley Bulldogs. Picture: Dean Woolley
Menzie Yere during a two-try performance against Batley Bulldogs. Picture: Dean Woolley
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Sheffield Eagles were out-thought and out played as they lost 28-18 to Batley Bulldogs for the first time since 2010.

In a thrilling game the Bulldogs always kept their nose in front with Scott Leatherbarrow taking advantage of the short Owlerton pitch to kick three penalties.

Eagles came close in the second half with two tries from Menzie Yere but had to settle for a bonus point that gives them a finger tip hold on the final play-off place as they slip to eighth in the Championship.

“It was poor – a poor performance by a group of poor people,” said coach Mark Aston.

“The team that won it wanted it a little bit more. I’m really disappointed.”

The Eagles – who gave a debut to new signing Etu Uaisele - were chasing the game after two early tries in the space of three minutes from winger Wayne Reittie and centre Ben Heaton with Leatherbarrow converting the second.

Duane Straugheir lost control as be attempted to touch down but Eagles dragged themselves back into the game helped by a string of penalties with Dominic Brambani smuggling the ball out of the tackle for back rower Will Hope to burst through. Brambani added the goal.

When the visitors started to catch up in the penalty count Leatherbarrow kicked the first of his three to give Batley a 12-6 lead at half-time.

Eagles put the restart kick out and Leatherbarrow attempted a repeat dose but hit an upright. Within a couple of minutes he had another penalty and put it over.

The lead was cut to two points as centre Menzie Yere forced his way over from dummy half.

Aston had moved Kyle Briggs into the halves with Brambani making way and Patch Walker added the goal from the touchline.

Batley lost Ben Black with a knee injury but Leatherbarrow stepped up with an offload for substitute Jacob Fairbank to force his way over. The scrum-half added the goal.

In a frantic final ten minutes Eagles got through with Quentin Laulu-Togagae releasing Yere to blast through from his second try, Brambani, back on, added the goal.

Eagles piled on the pressure but that made them vulnerable with Leatherbarrow providing the final pass for winger Brown to go in at the corner.

Leatherbarrow added the two and in the final minute his third penalty from half-way.