Rugby League: Sheffield Eagles seal pre-season derby spoils in win over Doncaster

Sheffield Eagles ran in three late tries to claim a 36-18 win over Doncaster in their first pre-season game at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 3:17 pm
Dons v Sheffield Eagles. Sheffield's Robbie Ward, pictured. Picture: NSST-19-01-20 DonsvSheffieldEagles 10-NMSY

The Championship side, for whom former Doncaster forward Frankie Mariano made an outstanding debut, were worthy winners of a competitive derby but the final score undoubtedly flattered them.

Eagles dominated the opening quarter and opened up a 12-0 lead through a close-range try by Greg Burns and a well-worked effort by Aaron Brown.

But hooker Harry Carter celebrated his Doncaster debut when going over from acting half-back prior to Brad England latching on to a loose ball to claim a second converted try.

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Dons v Sheffield Eagles. Sheffield's Rob Worrincy and Doncaster's Brad Foster , pictured. Picture: NSST-19-01-20 DonsvSheffieldEagles 3-NMSY

Mariano rewarded a sustained period of pressure with a 54th minute try but the Dons hit back four minutes later with Rangi Chase creating the chance for PNG international Watson Boas to race in from 30 metres out for a converted try to give his side an 18-16 lead.

That’s the way it stayed until centre Zack McComb put Eagles into a two-point lead with a 70th minute try.

Assistant Eagles coach Keith Senior says their first pre-season game has given the squad a better understanding of the new approach for 2020.

A number of Mark Aston’s new recruits got their first outing for the club.

Dons v Sheffield Eagles. Doncaster's Josh Rickett and Sheffield's Anthony Thackeray, pictured. Picture: NSST-19-01-20 DonsvSheffieldEagles 1-NMSY

Aston has previously revealed he is attempting to imprint a new style into his troops, allowing them to play with more freedom, and Senior admits the first run-out has helped towards explaining how they want to play going forward.

He told The Star: “We've not done too much team structure which we are a little bit behind on.

“Today will open up their eyes to how we want them to play because we have changed our attacking structures a little, and challenged them.

“I thought we were dominant for the first 20 minutes.

“But the disappointing aspect was their first challenge to our try-line - they scored. We need to build a little more resilience in our defence.

“We re-grouped, started to build again and then in the last 20 minutes we saw the class in the boys, and they showed a little of what we were looking for in attack.”

Additional reporting by Matt Young.