Mark Aston confident Sheffield Eagles can down Betfred Championship’s other surprise package Batley Bulldogs

Head coach Mark Aston is confident Sheffield Eagles can get the better of the Betfred Championship’s other surprise package when they entertain Batley Bulldogs on Friday.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 11:25 am

Both teams were rank outsiders before the start of the season but have picked up several wins between them in the opening weeks and find themselves at the right end of the table.

The Eagles are currently fifth with two wins and a draw after four rounds, while Batley are in third having won three consecutive games since losing to league leaders Featherstone Rovers on the opening day.

"They are playing well, they are on fire,” said Aston. “It will be all on on Friday.

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Sheffield Eagles head coach Mark Aston.

"Batley have been racking points up, they can play and they have got some quality players.

"We know if we keep working hard and we keep the work ethic we have got and the honesty and integrity we have got about us then we can get the result.”

Aston spoke of his frustration the Eagles were not out of sight by the time London Broncos were awarded a last-minute penalty on Saturday which allowed them to equalise – but was pleased with their start to the season overall.

He said: “I’m proud of the efforts, in every game they have turned up and gave it a go.

"You are not going to be good every week, you have got to find a way to win. Against Newcastle we didn’t find a way to win the game but the effort was there.

"There is still work to be done but we have got lots of positives.”

Bottom side Swinton Lions are the only team yet to pick up a Betfred Championship win this season, with just two teams – Featherstone and Toulouse – still unbeaten.

The French side have only played twice and were automatically awarded a 24-0 win against London Broncos, who refused to travel to France because of coronavirus concerns, while title favourites Featherstone have won all three of their matches so far.

Asked why the 2021 season, which features six play-off places, is so open, Aston replied: “Teams haven’t been playing week in, week out. In the pressure cooker situations, do you make the right decisions?

"At this moment in time the answer for us is probably no.”