Sheffield Eagles shook off any hangover from their Challenge Cup exit with a 56-6 crushing of newly promoted North Wales Crusaders.
Winger Scott Turner and fullback Quentin Laulu-Togaage scored a hat-tricks of tries and half-back Dominic Brambani took advantage of the big pitch at the Wrexham’s Racecourse ground to control the game.
Menzie Yere made a surprise return for the Eagles after fears that a knee injury would rule him out for the season. Skipper Mitch Stringer was also back after missing the Cup game at Castleford.
Eagles dominated from the kick-off pinning the Crusaders in their half and took the lead with a solo try from fullback Laulu-Togagae with a curving run from the half-way line. Brambani added the goal.
Three penalties helped the Eagles dominate possession but they couldn’t immediately press home the advantage. Crusaders, coached by Doncaster Knights rugby union boss Clive Griffiths, came into the game but struggled against strong Eagles defence.
The deadlock was broken with three tries in six minutes as the Eagles made possession count in the final minutes of the half.
Brambani started a passing move with winger Scott Turner taking a final long pass to dive over at the corner.
A kick by the scrum-half bounced back for Misi Taulapapa, playing at centre, to sweep in and Brambani’s high kick was taken by Turner for his second try. With Brambani converting two of the tries the Eagles led 22-0 at half-time.
Crusaders hit back almost from the restart with Owain Griffiths, son of the coach, finishing a move down the right and Tommy Johnson added the goal.
The reply came with Turner taking Patch Walker’s chip kick to complete his hat-trick.
Brambani next produced a great off-load to send the Laulu-Togagae sweeping in under the posts.
Eagles turned the screw with substitute hooker Gareth Owen forcing a mistake by a Crusaders player to claim a try and Yere’s break and offload sent in Walker.
Brambani sent in Laulu-Togagae to complete his hat-trick and bring up the 50 points.
Yere’s try rounded off the scoring and Brambani kicked eight conversions.
Crusaders: Johnson; Clay, Reardon, Roets, Massam; Moulsdale, Durbin; Walker, Karl Ashall, Offerdahl, Middlehurst, Wild, Craig Ashall. Smith, Martins, Bannister, Griffiths.
Tries: Griffiths 42.
Goals: Johnson 1/1.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Taulapapa, Burke; Walker, Brambani; Lillycrop, Henderson, Stringer, Garside, Aspinall, Straugheir. Subs: Owen, Green, Blagbrough, Ashton.
Tries: Laulu-Togagae 7, 56, 71, Turner 30, 36, 48, Taulapapa 32, Owen 62, Walker 64, Yere 78.
Goals: Brambani 8/10.
Referee: Chris Kendall