Sheffield Eagles maintained their impressive start to the Kingstone Press Championship but they had to do it the hard way after a 28-14 victory over Hunslet.
The Eagles played the entire second half with just 12 men after Misi Taulapapa was sent off for a headbutt just before the interval, but Mark Aston’s side held their nerve to record their sixth straight win in all competitions.
Kyle Briggs was back in the starting line-up along with Cory Aston and Taulapapa, with new signing Oliver Roberts on the bench along with the returning Mitch Stringer.
The Eagles made the early running, making the breakthrough on 10 minutes when Briggs’ grubber kick fell into the grateful grasp of Taulapapa who dived over. Pat Walker converted.
Five minutes later and Taulapapa fended off former Eagle Vinny Finigan to dive over in the corner. Walker added the extras.
The game continued to be played predominately in the Hunslet half but just before the break the Eagles suffered a blow when Taulapapa went from hero to villain after a headbutt on George Flanagan saw him sent off. Danny Ansell kicked successfully to reduce the deficit to 10 points.
Despite the numerical handicap Aston’s side produced the first score of the second half when Steve Thorpe found the gap before teeing up Quentin Laulu-Togagae for an easy run-in. Walker converted.
Hunslet responded instantly when Rob Mulhern forced is way over the line to breathe life into the visitors’ cause. Ansell kicked the extras. The topsy-turvy nature of the half continued when Michael Knowles raced clear for another try after a sublime pass by Aston. Walker failed with the conversion.
A clever try from Flanagan gave Hunslet a sniff but Briggs ended any hope of a comeback with a late score to secure another win.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Taulapapa, Briggs, Aston, Battye, Carlile, Tonks, Knowles, Davies, Walker. Subs: Davey, Stringer, Roberts, Thorpe.
Scorers: Tries: Taulapapa (10, 15), Laulu-Togagae (45), Knowles (51), Briggs (75) Goals: Walker 4/5
Hunslet: Watson; Finigan, Keinhorst, Maun, Duckworth, Brown, Ansell, Yates, Lee, Brennan, Casey, Walters, Mackay. Subs: Flanagan, Haley, Mulhern, Briscoe.
Scorers: Tries: Mulhern (48), Flanagan (65) Goals: Ansell 3/3