Sheffield Eagles avenged their opening night defeat at the Tetley’s Stadium with a narrow 15-8 victory over fellow top four contenders Dewsbury Rams.
The Eagles showed nerves of steel to snatch maximum points with a late Rob Worrincy try, after Dewsbury threatened to cause an upset following a stubborn defensive display at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Director of rugby Mark Aston welcomed back Quentin Laulu-Togagae, Dominic Brambani and Steve Thorpe who all missed the victory over Doncaster through injury, whilst there was also a start for Duane Straugheir.
It was a tight opening with neither defence showing signs of buckling as the first-half descended into a war of attrition. The Eagles slightly shaded the opening exchanges with Straugheir threatening to score on nine minutes, but crucially he knocked on a metre from the line.
The Eagles looked the more threatening as the half wore on with Michael Knowles bursting forward before being held by Anthony Thackeray.
With neither side giving an inch it came as no surprise on 31 minutes when Dewsbury won a penalty deep in enemy territory and decided to kick. Brett Seymour finally opened the scoring comfortably slotting between the posts.
It was a quick response from Aston’s side and after a razor sharp pick up and kick from Kyle Briggs, Scott Turner sprinted over the whitewash to ground the ball in the corner. Briggs missed the conversation.
After the break the Eagles hit the accelerator and increased their lead on 44 minutes. Terrific initial work from Eddie Battye and James Davey laid the foundations for a Menzie Yere rampage down the left, which Dewsbury were unable to stop. Briggs again failed with the conversion.
Dewsbury were then forced up withstand some heavy pressure as Aston’s side, just like in the victory over Doncaster, upped the tempo in the second half. Despite the hosts territorial advantage Dewsbury held firm, with the Eagles failing to capitalise on a brilliant 40/20 effort from Knowles.
With six points between the sides, and a host of infractions from the Eagles, the Rams remained within touching distance. On 66 minutes they pulled level when Matty Wildie fed Thackeray who sprinted over the line, and Seymour’s conversion gave the Rams parity.
With seven minutes remaining the Eagles re-took the lead when a sublime pass from Sam Smeaton allowed Rob Worrincy to score in the corner, and Briggs added the two points from the sideline.
Victory was sealed with a late Brambani drop goal as the Eagles consolidated their place in the top four.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy, Briggs, Brambani, Thorpe, Carlile, Stringer, Knowles, Straugheir, Taulapapa. Interchange: Battye, Davey, Tonks, Davies.
Scorers: Tries: Turner (34), Yere (44), Worrincy (73) Goals: Briggs 1/3 Drop Goals: Brambani 1/1
Dewsbury: Fieldhouse; Morton, Pryce, Crookes, Grant, Seymour, Thackeray, Haggarty, Wildie, Jackson, Spicer, Hale, Adamson. Interchange: Brown, T. Adamson, Godwin, Hepworth.
Scorers: Tries: Goals: Thackeray (66) Seymour 2/2
Referee: Tom Crashley