Sheffield overcame Betfred Championship strugglers Oldham 25-18 at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday in what was their first match for three weeks following another coronavirus outbreak at the club, which forced the cancellation of two fixtures.
The home side had just 17 players available for selection after further positive cases were confirmed this week but earned a morale-boosting two points thanks to first-half tries from skipper Matt James and Oliver Davies and second-half efforts from Ryan Millar and Josh Guzdek, as well as Harry Tyson-Wilson’s late drop goal.
Aston admitted the performance wasn’t quite up to the desired standard, however.
He said: “It was scratchy. We knew it would be when you have been closed down and haven't trained for 10 days.
"It’s tough for the players, it has been a long season, stop-start, there’s no continuity in it. We are changing the team and lost four people to Covid in the last 48 hours.
"It was very scratchy and quite frustrating but an ugly win’s a win. I’m pleased just to get a win and put a smile back on the players’ faces. It’s been a horrid season for them.”
The cancelled matches against York City Knights and Bradford Bulls will not be rearranged to a midweek slot, Aston also confirmed.
He added: "Nobody has ever seen anything like it [the 2021 season] and the players’ welfare is something we shouldn’t play lip service with.
"That’s why I’m adamant we won’t play these games because I wouldn’t risk putting players out three times a week.
"It’s crazy if you want to do that.”
Sheffield’s already depleted squad was dealt a further blow early in the second half when Tyler Dickinson was carried off the pitch on a stretcher wearing a neck brace following a collision, but Aston said the prop was not seriously injured.
“He’s sat up in there [the changing room], he feels a bit sick. There’s no damage, I believe. I think he’s probably just concussed.
"Precautions were taken but he’s sat in the changing room singing the song with the lads.”
The win moves Sheffield Eagles up to eighth in the table with five games remaining.