Eagles book spot in Betfred Challenge Cup last 16

Sheffield Eagles won by the narrowest margins as they secured their place in the Betfred Challenge Cup last 16 with a 12-14 victory against Swinton Lions on Saturday afternoon.
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After going behind in Manchester, the Eagles scored three successive tries through Bayley Liu, Kris Welham and Ben Jones-Bishop, before a late Rhys Williams try put pressure on Sheffield.

Fortunately, they were able to hold out for the win in Manchester to seal their place in the sixth round.

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Mark Aston made just one change to his starting 13 from last weekend’s win against Batley Bulldogs in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup quarter final, as Liu came in to start in the place of Joel Farrell.

Eagles defending against Swinton on Saturday afternoonEagles defending against Swinton on Saturday afternoon
Eagles defending against Swinton on Saturday afternoon

It was the hosts who took the lead after only seven minutes as Gavin Bennion spotted a gap in the Sheffield defence and worked his way under the sticks to score the game’s first points.

Dec Patton added his extras to put the Lions into a six-point lead at Heywood Road, the first of two successive kicks for the afternoon.

It didn’t take long for the Eagles to respond as Liu latched onto a good cut-out pass to the left, before spinning a Swinton man and went over to score from close-range.

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After trailing 6-4 at the break, the Eagles went ahead only six minutes after the restart as Welham met Anthony Thackeray’s kick through the Swinton defence, before collecting the ball and going over to score to put Sheffield in front.

The hosts were reduced to 12 men after Matty Fletcher was sent to the sin-bin for conceding consecutive penalties, and Ben Jones-Bishop capitalised as he crashed over in the corner to score after the ball was shifted towards the right edge on the next set.

Cory Aston added the extra two points from the touchline, taking the Eagles into an eight-point lead.

Swinton scored a late consolation as Rhys Williams went over into the left corner to score, before Declan Patton’s kick took the hosts to within two points of the Eagles with only three minutes remaining, but Aston’s side were able to hold on for a hard-fought victory as they sealed their place in the sixth round.

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With Eagles overcoming Swinton, Batley Bulldogs inflicting defeat on Widnes Vikings, Halifax Panthers demolishing York Acorn and Featherstone Rovers getting over the line against Wakefield Trinity, the 16 teams included in the draw have been confirmed.

All 12 Super League teams were also due to be represented in the draw last night, which was being broadcast live from the BBC’s studios at MediaCity.

Attention now turns to next weekend’s Betfred Championship league opener against Toulouse Olympique as the Eagles get their league campaign underway on Friday under the lights at Olympic Legacy Park (7:30pm kick-off).