SHEFFIELD Eagles’ coach Mark Aston has thrown down a challenge to his players to repeat the heroics of the club’s Wembley winners.
Aston picked up the Lance Todd Trophy as man-of-the-match as he inspired the Eagles to a shock triumph over Wigan Warriors in the 1998 Challenge Cup final.
The current team will be even longer odds as they face the stars of St Helens in the fourth round of the competition on Saturday.
“Underdogs win games in every sport,” said Aston, whose backroom staff includes another Wembley winner Waisale Sovatabua. “We proved that in ’98 and that game should have been the catalyst for this club but it’s all about progression and victory against Saints would be another great chapter in the history of Sheffield Eagles
“There are always ways to win a game and we don’t go out thinking we’ll get beat. I can assure you we’ll take to the field against St Helens believing we can win.
“It will be tough, they’re full-time and probably get more training in one day then we get in a week but we’ll put in a performance we can be proud of and look to win the small battles. If we do that, the result will look after itself.”
The Eagles have produced big performances against Super League teams. They pushed Hull KR all the way before losing 34-24 in the fifth round in 2009 and last season matched Wigan try for try in the second half of a 50-34 defeat.
“We’ll look after our own game and go out there and enjoy it and ensure we play the game with a smile on our face,” said Aston.
“We went to-to-toe with Wigan in the Cup last season and they were ‘the team’ in the competition. We were close to causing a huge upset so there’s no reason we can’t repeat that this season.
“If you break the game down from 80 minutes to small segments, it gives the players clear objectives to aim for. We’ll study Saints and concentrate on breaking down their attack and exploiting their weaknesses.”
Saturday’s game (kick-off 3pm) is being played at the Stobart Stadium, Widnes - Saints temporary home while their new ground is being built. Tickets cost £10 adult and £5 concessions.