IT’S the last chance for Sheffield Eagles to draw a line under an unwanted record and gain revenge over Widnes Vikings.
Since promotion to the rugby league’s second tier in 2007 the Eagles have lost all their games against the Vikings.
“It’s the only team we haven’t beaten in the league – we have a score to settle there,” says Eagles’ coach Mark Aston. “We’re still smarting from Widnes taking us to the cleaners at Bramall Lane in round one this season, they put 40-odd points on us and we’re not happy with that.”
Time is running out for the Eagles with Widnes heading for the Super League after being awarded a franchise starting next season.
Widnes have recovered from a shaky start to the season and are only four points behind the Eagles in the Championship.
Former Wigan and Great Britain star Denis Betts has moved in as coach and revamped the Vikings squad, axing a number of experienced players including former Eagles’ centre James Ford now at York. Widnes need to finish well in their last Championship season and Aston believes that pressure could work to the Eagles advantage, at the Stobart Stadium on Sunday, kick-off 3pm.
“They have been a little bit up and down and had it tough against York the other week – as they are going to be a Super League club you would expect them to be flying high but they are a bit inconsistent and we need to exploit that,” he said. “Widnes have some outstanding dual-reg players. They have gone out and got young kids from the Super League and that will work for this year but they have to go forward.”
Winger Tim Bergin is set to keep his place after scoring a try in the 32-16 win at Toulouse. The Irish international came into the team after Danny Mills couldn’t make the trip because of passport problems.
After three straight wins the Eagles are the form team but Aston warns: “We need to keep the momentum going. I am relatively happy but we need a little bit more consistency. If we can eliminate the mistakes we keep throwing up early in tackles then we will be a force to be reckoned with. We’re stronger defensively than we were when Widnes beat us (44-16).”
Hull’s former Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson is suffering from stress, the club have revealed.
The 31-year-old Gleeson has missed the last two matches for the Black and Whites and his absence from the club’s training ground sparked rumours over his whereabouts.
Hull acted to halt the speculation yesterday by revealing the player is on sick leave.