Sheffield Eagles 16
Widnes Vikings 44
IT wasn’t a happy return to Bramall Lane as Sheffield Eagles battled but couldn’t match the try-scoring power of Widnes Vikings in their opening game of the Championship season.
The Eagles pack kept them in the game but without the suspended Menzie Yere they struggled to put points on the board in the final 20-metres. On the positive side there was a debut for Samoan signing Quentin Laulu-Togagae and 48 hours after arriving in the UK the utility back produced some thrilling breaks. Coach Mark Aston felt the scoreline didn’t reflect the way his team played.
He said: “We were in the game and had a try disallowed just before half-time that could have got us back in. You can’t fault the effort or commitment of the guys but when you are playing against teams like Widnes if you knock off for a minute they will hit you.”
The Eagles wore a specially designed playing strip with the slogan ‘Homophobia: Tackle It!’
The kit was sponsored by the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual) History Month and Pride Sports to help support equality and diversity in sport.
Before the game the Eagles were presented with the Pride Sports Challenge Cup in recognition of their ground-breaking efforts for equality.
Centre Steve Tyer squeezed over for Widnes’s opening try after seven minutes and then added the first of six successful goal kicks.
The Eagles came back with a try from Dane McDonald converted by Simon Brown.
Simon Finnigan put the Vikings further ahead before Tyer and hooker Kirk Netherton added quick tries.
Eagles forward Alex Rowe crashed over for a try and on half-time it looked as if Corey Hanson had touched down from a high hanging kick by Brown but the referee ruled the centre was off-side and the teams went in with Widnes leading 12-22.
Widnes increased their lead just over a minute after the restart with a try from substitute forward Dave Allen and Finnigan scored his second touch down The Eagles were always in the game and Hanson forced his way over with Brown adding the goal but it was Widnes who were the more clinical as Allen completed his hat-trick to seal the win.
Eagles: Jamie Cottle; Danny Mills, Corey Hanson, Joe Hirst, Tim Bergin; Dane McDonald, Simon Brown; Jack Howieson, Andrew Henderson, Liam Higgins, Alex Szostak, Mitch Stringer, Peter Green. Subs: Nick Turnbull, Ryan Hepworth, Alex Rowe, Quentin Laulu-Togagae.
Tries: McDonald, 14, Rowe, 32, Hanson, 62. Goals: Brown 2/3.
Widnes: Danny Craven; Dean Gaskell, James Ford, Steve Tyer, Matt Gardner; Anthony Thackeray, Thomas Coyle; Ben Kavanagh, Kirk Netherton, Daniel Heckenburg, Shane Grady, Kurt Haggerty, Simon Finnigan. Subs: Chas I’Anson, Steve Pickergill, David Allen, Danny Sculthorpe.
Tries: Allen, 41, 64, 73, Tyer, 7, 25, Finnigan, 20,59, Netherton, 28. Goals: Tyer 6/8.
Referee: Jamie Leahy.