Sheffield Eagles 30 Widnes Vikings 10: Eagles make major statement in 1895 dress rehearsal
Sheffield Eagles laid down a marker ahead of the 1895 Cup final after defeating Widnes Vikings 30-10 in a dress rehearsal for their Wembley showdown.
Mark Aston’s side also kept their top five hopes alive, after an inspired display from Anthony Thackeray, which included a brace of tries, propelled the Eagles back into play-off contention.
The home side were clinical in taking their chances, giving themselves the psychological edge ahead of the final against the Vikings in three weeks.
The Eagles made a blistering start after Jack Owens’ pass was intercepted by Thackeray who sprinted 50 metres downfield. Without the legs to go all the way, he swiftly handed on to Ben Blackmore who finished the job by touching down under the posts. Pat Walker converted.
The home side enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and deservedly bagged a second score when Greg Burns’ short pass found Brad Knowles, who marched through a gaping hole in the line to cross the whitewash. Walker added the extras.
Widnes fought back before the break after Ryan Ince squirmed over in the corner for an unconverted score.
After a purposeful start to the second stanza by the visitors, they looked set for a try only for Jordan Johnstone to knock on at the play of the ball on the Eagles’ line. Veteran Menzie Yere picked up the loose ball, taking the Eagles towards halfway and on the next play Thackeray produced a trademark dummy to pierce the line, before striding over the whitewash. Walker converted.
Widnes then capitalised on hesitancy by the hosts when Danny Craven’s grubber was touched down by Ellis Robson for a converted score.
The home side regained their composure and it was Thackeray again sprinting clear to score after Aaron Brown’s initial break, with Walker slotting the extras.
Thackeray was at the heart of the next try after scooping up a loose ball. His run put the Eagles in prime position and on the last tackle Walker’s grubber was touched down at full stretch by Yere for another converted try.
Eagles: Guzdek; Millar, Yere, Ogden, Blackmore; Walker, Thackeray; Pick, G. Burns, Knowles; Farrell, Davies; Brown. Interchange: Makelim, P. Burns, Dixon, Broadbent.
Scorers: Tries: Blackmore (4), Knowles (21), Thackeray (46, 57), Yere (63) Goals: Walker 5/5
Widnes: Owens; Ince, Roby, Shepherd, Ashall-Bott; Craven, Lyons; Norman, Johnstone, J. Chapelhow; Wilde, Robson; Walker. Interchange: E. Chapelhow, Ganson, Hansen, Leuluai.
Scorers: Tries: Ince (30), Robson (50) Goals: Owens 1/2
Referee: Greg Dolan