Sheffield Eagles take inspiration from the past as they prepare for Championship Shield final

Mark Aston
Mark Aston
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Sheffield Eagles will take inspiration from their last visit to Toulouse ahead of today’s Championship Shield final (2.30pm BST).

Mark Aston’s side will again go into the contest as firm underdogs, with their opponents having a formidable home record home which has seen the French side win their last six on home soil.

One of those victories came against the Eagles, but despite the defeat the Eagles chief took heart from the performance in light of travelling to the south of France on the day of the game.

“It was well documented about our travel issues, and then the intense heat, but we had a dig despite everything being against us,” Aston told The Star.

“We will take confidence from that, it certainly inspired us for the last few games, and we will take it into the final. It is about us, we have had one of those inconsistent years, but yet again we have made the final, just like last year.”

The Eagles have beaten their full-time opponents already this season after victory at the start of the campaign in Wakefield.

That will again give Aston confidence, but whether he will have a full compliment of players available remains to be seen with PNG star Mark Mexico having visa issues ahead of the final.

Aston also has to contend with knocks to the likes of centre Perry Whiteley, but forward Will Hope come through last weekend’s semi-final unscathed.

The start will be key, with the 50-year-old coach highlighting the home side’s ability to begin quickly as something his side will need to tackle.

“I think what they are doing is blasting teams away in the first 20 minutes,” Aston added.

“Teams are getting back into it but then they go again. We need to make sure that we start strong and tough. We did that last weekend and it paid off.

“We had a great performance against Toulouse when we beat them at home. Then we have had two games over there when they beat us, but a month ago we went there and we were very good in tough circumstances.

“We have had plenty of finals in recent years. We lost to Featherstone in 2011, but then we won back-to-back Grand Finals in 2012 and 2013. We lost the semi-final in 2014, but then we made the middle eights in 2015 and now the last two years we have made the Shield final. That’s not a bad effort considering the circumstances.”