RUGBY LEAGUE: Tough route to final as Eagles draw leaders Fax

Northern rail Cup, 'Sheffield Eagels vs Hunslet Harks 'Eages's Dane McDonald, get in to score the 2nd try
Northern rail Cup, 'Sheffield Eagels vs Hunslet Harks 'Eages's Dane McDonald, get in to score the 2nd try
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SHEFFIELD Eagles face a tough semi-final against Halifax as they bid to reach their first ever Northern Rail Cup final.

The Eagles have home advantage after they were first out of the bag in the draw last night. The holders Leigh Centurions will travel to Featherstone Rovers in the other tie.

“It’s tough whoever you get when it’s a semi-final,” said Eagles coach Mark Aston. “Halifax are top of the Championship and you have to look at what they are doing this season.

“It’s good that we’re at home. We’ve never been in a Northern Rail semi-final and we want to go all the way and win the Cup.”

Halifax were the beaten finalists last season losing 20-16 to Leigh. Under new coach Karl Harrison they have set the pace in the league this season.

Fax handed out a try-scoring lesson to the Eagles winning 50-18 when the teams met in the league in March. In the semi-final they hammered Barrow 54-24

One semi will be live on satellite TV on Thursday July 5 with the second three days later on Sunday July 8.

The Eagles players were given the weekend off after the 48-0 win over Hunslet Hawks that booked them a place in the semis. They are back at Don Valley on Friday night against York Knights in the league.

Aston was boosted by the way the team defended against Hunslet after the problems in the big defeat at Leigh.

“I’m delighted and to nil a team for 80 minutes is something we haven’t done this season,” he said.

“It was good the way the lads did what they had to – it wasn’t a vintage performance but we still racked up 48 points.

“It was wet underfoot but the big fellas went round the field well. Jack Howieson and Mitch Stringer set the tone early and the rest of the big lads kept that going.”

It wasn’t all good news for Aston as in his role as head coach he saw his Ireland team collapse in the second half against England Knights to lose 62-4.