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.
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.
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.
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.