SHEFFIELD EAGLES: League remains Mark Aston’s priority despite Cup win

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SHEFFIELD Eagles players will swiftly switch their focus back on to the battle for the league after a successful trip to France.

The Eagles are only two days away from a vital game at Leigh Centurions with only one point separating the clubs near the top of the Championship.

“The priority has to be the league and the game at Leigh is a tough one,” said coach Mark Aston. “That’s why I left some of the lads at home when we went to France. I didn’t want too many being asked to back up from the weekend to playing on Thursday after all the travelling.”

Aston rested just about his first choice pack of forwards for the trip to Carcassone in the Anglo-French Challenge.

It means he will have props Jack Howieson, Liam Higgins, back rowers Michael Knowles, Joe Hirst, Peter Green and hooker Andrew Henderson, ready to come back in for the game at Leigh Sports Village on Thursday night.

Most of the players who made the trip to South West France came though without major problems. Loose-forward Dane McDonald is the only worry after dropping out of the squad after spraining an ankle in a final training session.

Back rower or centre Duane Straugheir also didn’t make the trip to France after his wife went into labour.

The team with three reserves Nathan Walmsley, Jack Latus and Leigh Sanders making their debuts, outclassed the French League and Cup holders 40-12

Aston has questioned the value of the Anglo-French games – which saw Leigh, Halifax and Featherstone make it a clean sweep of English wins – at the mid-point in the UK season.

He said: “It’s not ideal, but it was tough for the French because they’ve had their season and come down and then they had to come back up for this game.

“We have a big game on Thursday and couldn’t risk some of the lads.

“It was good to get the win and not pick up injuries.

“The Anglo-French is a good idea but I’m not sure of the value of it to English clubs.”

The Eagles are currently on a four-match winning streak.