SHEFFIELD Eagles are staking a claim as the comeback kings of rugby league. A week ago they almost pulled back a 26-0 deficit – at Bramall Lane yesterday they went one better.
Poor defending saw Eagles trailing 22-6 to Batley at half-time but from the restart they scored a try and then just kept going until they were ahead.
Australian Dane McDonald capped a great performance when he finally put the Eagles into the lead with an interception try 16 minutes from time but even then the drama wasn’t over.
In the final minute Batley scored their fifth try and could have snatched a draw but Paul Handforth’s conversion drifted wide.
“The guys showed a lot of resolve and attitude in the second half,” said coach Mark Aston.
With two games left Eaglescould still sneak into the top four.
Eagles defence was at fault as Batley stormed into a big lead with tries from second row Dane Manning, full back Ian Preece and loose forward Ashley Lindsay.
Aston made a triple substitution with full back Jonny Woodcock back in action after 16 months with a knee injury.
Woodcock played a part early in the move that saw the Eagles pull a try back from McDonald but Batley again eased ahead with a Chris Buttery touchdown for a 22-6 lead at half-time.
It was a different Eagles team after the restart as they took instant control. Peter Green was held on the line before centre Corey Hanson went for his eighth try of the season.
After Jack Howieson’s charge for the line was halted the ball was switched right and loose-forward Joe Hirst was first to a McDonald chip kick.
Next the Australian provided the pass for Tim Bergin to touchdown the Eagles fourth try to level the scores.
McDonald’s interception and 40 metres break put the Eagles ahead with Simon Brown kicking his fourth goal.
George Flanagan forced his way over from dummy half to give Batley hope of a draw but Handforth’s kick from near the sideline was just wide and the Eagles were home.
Eagles: Taulapapa; Finigan, Yere, Hanson, Bergin; McDonald, Brown; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Subs: Smith, Scott, Hepworth, Woodcock.
Tries: McDonald, 34, 66, Hanson 41, Hirst 46, Bergin 57; Goals: Brown 4/5.
Batley: Preece; Reittie, Maun, Williams, Campbell; Handforth, Mennell; Smith, Lythe, Potter, Walton, Manning, Lindsay. Subs: Flanagan, Buttery, Robinson, Hesketh.
Tries: Manning 6, Preece 10, Lindsay 21, Buttery 37, Flanagan 78; Goals: Handforth 3/5. Attendance: 1,174.