Sheffield Eagles 44 Toulouse 16 – Anthony Thackeray helps Eagles to stunning victory
Anthony Thackeray’s sublime hat-trick inspired Sheffield Eagles to a 44-16 victory over highly-fancied Toulouse at the OLP.
Thackeray stole the show with a high-quality effort, scoring two tries from deep inside his own half, as Mark Aston’s side returned to winning ways against the full-time French outfit.
Toulouse, expected to challenge Toronto for top spot, were out-played from start-to-finish as man-of-the-match Thackeray lead the way as a clinical Eagles moved level on points with their opponents.
The Eagles dominated the first-half, and opened their account when skipper Matty James successfully barrelled over the whitewash backwards before grounding. Pat Walker slotted the extras.
Five minutes later, with the Eagles defending their own line, Thackeray intercepted a stray Toulouse pass before sprinting 80 metres to dive over in front of the sticks. Walker converted.
The French side had plenty of useful field position, but handling errors and a stout home defence kept them at bay.
Aston’s side were more clinical and they were over again when Sonny Esslemont barged onto a short pass from Greg Burns before expertly planting the ball over the line one-handed on the stretch. Walker converted.
The lead was extended to 20 points when Walker slotted a penalty after Esslemont was hit with a high shot.
Toulouse nicked a try just before the hooter when Mattheiu Jussaume dived over and Mark Kheirallah nailed the extras from out wide.
The Eagles kept their composure at the start of the second stanza, and increased their advantage when Thackeray showed his class with a clever show-and-go, finding the gap in the Toulouse line to glide over for a converted try.
Toulouse stayed in the contest, and after Tony Maurel saw his try chalked off, they were back in the game moments later through a William Barthau converted score.
The Eagles didn’t crumble, but instead pushed the accelerator. Poor handling again by the visitors saw Ryan Millar pick up a loose ball before a 60 metre sprint ended in a converted try.
The game was then killed off when another Thackeray interception saw the half-back complete a hat-trick, winning another 80 metre foot race to dive over in the corner. Walker kicked the extras.
Paul Macron’s try gave the visitors a consolation, but it was the Eagles who had the last word through another James try, converted again by Walker.
Eagles: Guzdek; Millar, Glover, Brown, Blackmore; Walker, Thackeray; Moran, G. Burns, Dixon; Farrell, Davies; James. Interchange: Esslemont, Pick, Makelim, Broadbent.
Scorers: Tries: James (16, 80), Thackeray (21, 47, 68), Esslemont (35), Millar (64) Goals: Walker 8/8
Toulouse: Kheirallah; Macron, Jussaume, Ader, Maurel; Barthau, Robin; Santi, Parata, Boyer; Mika, Curran; Marion. Interchange: Bell, Vaivai, Hepi, Dezaria.
Scorers: Tries: Jussaume (40), Barthau (53), Macron (75) Goals: Kheirallah 2/3
Referee: Marcus Griffiths