Rugby League: Thrilled Aston salutes ‘amazing’ Eagles display

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Featherstone Rovers 40

Sheffield Eagles 60

EAGLES plundered 11 tries as they destroyed last season’s Grand Final winners Featherstone with cracking attacking rugby.

It was an amazing way to bounce back by the Eagles from their first defeat of the season by Halifax but there were scares with Rovers briefly pulling back to 44-40.The game produced 18 tries and 100 points with centre Misi Taulapapa scoring a hat-trick as the Eagles ended an unbeaten run of 22 games for Rovers at the Big Fellas Stadium.

Coach Mark Aston was ‘amazed’ by the performance against the team that has dominated the Championship for two seasons. “What happened I have no idea, it’s a festive weekend, is everybody showing off?” he said. “We’re elated because last week we got our backsides kicked so to come to Featherstone and put 60 points on them is amazing.”

Half-back Dominic Brambani and hooker Andrew Henderson were the playmakers with props Liam Higgins strong, plus Michael Knowles and Dane McDonald making an impact off the bench. Eagles took a three-try lead in the first 16 minutes with two from Taulapapa either side of winger Scott Turner touching down after former Eagles’ back Tangi Ropati spilled Brambani’s high kick.

Rovers hit back with two quick tries from centre Greg Worthington and loose-forward Matty Dale but Eagles came back with winger Nev Morrison’s eighth try of the season.

Ropati’s break down the line and Finn’s goal kept Rovers in touch but a wild pass was collected by Menzie Yere from 60 metres out for a try that gave the Eagles a 26-16 lead at half-time. After the re-start, second rower Alex Szostak raced in from 60 metres, Taulapapa got his hat-trick try and full back Laulu-Togagae weaved in. But then Eagles defence went to sleep. There was a channel down the centre of the field as Andy Kain with two tries, Sam Saxton and ex-Eagles forward Michael Haley, plus the goals from Finn, pulled back the lead to four points.

Relief came with McDonald stealing the ball and Brambani sending Joe Hirst under the posts.

In the final minutes tries from Laulu-Togagae and McDonald with Brambani kicking his fifth goal brought up the 60 points and denied Roves a losing bonus point.

EAGLES: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Taulapapa, Morrison; Brown, Brambani; Howieson, Henderson, Higgins, Szostak, Green. Hirst. Subs: McDonald, Hepworth, Knowles, Rowe.

Tries: Taulapapa, 3, 16, 47, Turner,11, Morrison, 30, Yere, 36, Szostak, 41, Laulu-Togagae, 49, 76, Hirst 65, McDonald, 79.

Goals: Brown 3/5, Brambani 5/6.

Attendance: 2,293.