Eagles soar to cup triumph over Dons

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SHEFFIELD Eagles soared into the knock-out stages of the Northern Rail Cup with a 10-try demolition of derby rivals Doncaster in their Pool B clash at the Keepmoat Stadium.

The Dons were without five regulars, including full-back Mick Butterfield and big-name close-season signing Paul Cooke, but that alone cannot explain the surprising gulf in class.

The Dons almost got off to a flying start with centre Lee Waterman being held inches short on the sixth tackle after hooker Kyle Kesik had made a superb midfield break.

But it was Eagles who drew first blood. Winger Nev Morrison, who spent last season at Doncaster on loan from Hull FC, touched down in the corner for a try goaled by Simon Brown.

The Dons hit back in spirited style, mixing their tactics well, but the Sheffield defence held firm.

Eagles doubled their lead on 19 minutes, scrum-half Dominic Brambani split the defence and in the Doncaster 20 and found loose-forward Joe Hirst up in support close to the line.

It was to be the first of three converted tries in a five-minute spell which set Eagles on the road to a decisive win.

Brambani put Hirst in for a second close-range try three minutes later and Alex Szostak crossed from close range on 24 minutes.

A cruel bounce from a Brambani kick completely wrong-footed full-back Tom Hodson ten metres in the Doncaster half and Morrison gathered before sending centre Misi Taulapapa racing in for a fifth converted try.

Full-back Quentin Luala-Togagoe scrambled over in the corner for an unconverted try and Mitch Stringer strolled over from five metres out on 38 minutes. Brown added the conversion to make it 40-0.

Brambani touched down for Eagles’ eighth try three minutes after the restart after the Dons had failed to deal with a loose ball over the line. The half-back was in again nine minutes later to bring up the half-century points mark.

Laula-Togagoe touched down for Eagles’ tenth try, again converted by Brown, on 54 minutes to make it 56-0.

Kyle Bibb and Nathan Powley were both held up over the line around the hour mark during the Dons’ best spell on attack since the opening stages.

Former Eagles’ utility man Grant Edwards, playing out of position at stand-off, went over from close range for a 67th minute try, goaled by Waterman.

Having seen Eagles bomb a chance at the other end, Dons winger Dean Colton rounded off a good move in fine style. Waterman again added the extras.

Dons: Hodson, Colton, Cunningham, Waterman, Sanderson, Edwards, Fawcett, Bibb, Kesik, Robinson, O’Loughlin, Kelly, Emmett Subs: Robinson, Burnett, Townend, Sampson.

Eagles: Laula-Togogoe, Finigan, Yere, Taulapapa, Morrison, Brown, Brambani, Howison, Henderson, Higgins, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Subs: Straugheir, Scott, Smith, Stringer.

Dons: Tries Edwards, Colton. Goals: Waterman (2); Eagles: Brambani (2), Hirst (2), Laula-Topagoe (2) Taulapapa, Szostak,Srtinger, Morrison. Goals: Brown (8)

Referee: W Turley.