Sheffield Eagles played well in spells and then struggled as they edged out Keighley Cougars 28-18 to keep their challenge at the top of the Championship on track.
Eagles started on the front foot but then caught a bad case of the jitters at a rain-swept Cougar Park to allow the hosts back into the game and it took a try in the final four minutes to make the three points safe.
“I don’t know why we do this; I’m fed up with the lads because they won’t do what I ask them,” said an angry coach Mark Aston. “On these kind of performances, we’re kidding ourselves if we think we can be a top two team.”
New captain Mitch Stringer played the full 80 minutes at prop with Michael Knowles and Eddie Battye, on his return from playing in France, impressing in flashes in a team that too easily went into it’s shell.
Dominic Brambani dived in from an Alex Szostak pass for the first try and then the half-back provided a cut-out ball for centre Tom Armstrong to finish. Brambani added both goals.
Cougars fought back with Daley Williams sweeping in and player coach Paul March went over from dummy half. An interception gifted Scott Law the third try and if Scott Leatherbarrow had not missed the conversions, Keighley would have been ahead.
Eagles regained the lead a minute before the break with Patch Walker and Quentin Laulu-Togagae putting Scott Turner in at the corner for a 16-12 lead.
Substitute hooker’s James Davey’s pass sent in Armstrong for his second try after the restart and then Eagles defence was tested as Keighley pinned them back before second rower Olly Pursglove powered his way through for a try converted by Danny Jones.
With four minutes left, winger Misi Talapapa intercepted a Jones pass to run 90 metres and touchdown under the posts. Brambani finished with four goals from five attempts.
*Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Armstrong, Taulapapa; Walker, Brambani; Battye, Henderson, Stringer, Garside, Szostak, Knowles. Subs: Davey, Green, Roche, Esposito.
*Tries: Brambani 6, Armstrong 11, 48, Turner 39, Taulapapa 76.
*Goals: Brambani 4/5.
*Referee: Gareth Hewer.