Sheffield Eagles slipped to back-to-back defeats for the first time this season with a 48-12 defeat by Super League Widnes Vikings.
Despite a brave second half showing, Eagles were brushed aside by their more illustrious opponents who maintained their winning start to the Super 8s, whilst Sheffield were dealt a huge blow losing front-rower Steve Thorpe to what looked to be a serious leg injury.
Director of Rugby Mark Aston made two changes to his side with Rob Worrincy returning on the wing, allowing Misi Taulapapa to move to loose forward, whilst half-back Kyle Briggs was replaced by Cory Aston.
In truth the chances of a major upset were slim, but Aston will have been buoyed by his side’s start. After repelling a Widnes attack, Menzie Yere sprinted 60 metres to give Sheffield field position, but when they looked set to score Scott Turner failed to gather Quentin Laulu-Togagae’s pass.
The close call shocked the hosts into life and they opened the scoring soon after. Joe Mellor threw the dummy before handing over to Kevin Brown for an easy run-in. Danny Tickle converted.
The influential Brown then took control of the game as the Super League side motored through the gears with a succession of tries to end any faint Eagles’ hopes. First, Brown’s sweeping pass presented Stefan Marsh with a try after a sprint to the corner, then Brown again found Marsh, who raced 60 metres to record his second try of the game. Tickle added the two. The floodgates were now open with Charly Runciman going over for the fourth try, but Tickle missed the extras.
A burst from Mellor handed Rhys Hanbury an easy score, then Danny Galea profited from more good work by Brown to score between the posts. Lloyd White added the two.
Aston’s side who kept plugging away and were rewarded with a try on half-time. Dominic Brambani’s cross-field kick was collected by Turner who grounded the ball in the corner, with Pat Walker expertly converting. They looked in prime position for another score at the start of the second half, but when Yere knocked on, the loose ball fell to Mellor who ran the length of the field to score. Tickle missed the conversion.
Worse was to follow when Aussie Thorpe left the field on a stretcher following a heavy challenge, with close attention paid to his left leg, and soon after Paddy Flynn grounded Widnes’ eighth try. White converting.
Eagles did cross the whitewash again when Keal Carlile collected his own grubber kick on the last for a well worked individual try, with Walker converting, but Marsh completed his hat-trick afor Widnes nd Runciman ran in the last try.
Widnes: Hanbury; Flynn, Dean, Runciman, Marsh, Brown, Mellor, Gerrad, White, Dudson, Tickle, Galea, Leuluai. Interchange: Heremaia, Isa, Manuokafoa, Whitley.
SCORERS: Tries: Brown (9), Marsh (19, 21, 77), Runciman (27, 80), Hanbury (32), Galea (36), Mellor (49), Flynn (56) Goals: Tickle 2/6, White 2/2.
Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy, Aston, Brambani, Thorpe, Carlile, Stringer, Knowles, Straugheir, Taulapapa. Interchange: Davey, Battye, Walker, Tonks.
scorers: Tries: Turner (39) Carlile (65). Goals: Walker 2/2