No derby showdown for Rail Cup rivals

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SHEFFIELD Eagles coach Mark Aston would have liked to have seen his team facing Doncaster in the Cup competition that kicks off the new season.

The South Yorkshire clubs have been kept apart in the opening group stages of the Northern Rail Cup.

With the Eagles in the Championship and the Dons in the division below, local fans face nearly two years without a ‘derby’ clash.

“It would have been good to play Doncaster” said Aston at the launch of the Rail Cup competition .“It would have been nice to be playing local. We have to travel up to Gateshead in the first game and that’s a fair journey for the fans.

“But those are the cards that have been dealt to us.”

Doncaster coach Tony Miller added: “I’d have liked to have played Sheffield. The fixtures are a lot better than last year but they could have been a bit more localised.”

The last time the clubs met was in a pre-season friendly in January last year, with the Eagles winning 24-16.

The Eagles kick off the Rail Cup with a trip to Gateshead Thunder on Sunday February 6. Doncaster open with trip to Featherstone Rovers next Friday and have home games against London Skolars, Dewsbury Rams and a trip Rochdale.

The 20 teams have been split into two pools of 10 with each team playing two home and two away games. The top four teams from each pool qualify for the unseeded knockout quarter-finals.