Sheffield Eagles ended their regular season in style with a 22-14 victory against London Broncos at The Hive.
The Eagles, who had already booked their place in the middle eight with a victory over Featherstone last weekend, edged out their opponents with late tries from Menzie Yere and Eddie Battye to make it three consecutive victories.
It was to be a game to remember for academy ace Ryan Miller who grabbed a brace on his Eagles’ senior debut, but Sheffield were served a blow late on when half-back Cory Aston left the field on a stretcher.
Youngster Miller was given his first start in place of Scott Turner on the wing as Director of Rugby Mark Aston tweaked his line-up. Aston junior replaced Kyle Briggs whilst Dave Petersen took his place on the bench after re-signing for the club in mid-week.
Eagles were looking to build on back-to-back victories and take the required momentum into the Super 8 Qualifiers, but they were stifled early on by a well organised London outfit. The hosts struck first through Wes Naiqama who powered his way over the line on the last tackle, before converting his own score.
Eagles struggled for fluency in the opening stages in difficult conditions, but even after a raft of mistakes, they did have their moments in the first half. Aston was agonisingly close to a try after a grubber kick from Dominic Brambani, whilst Rob Worrincy thought he was clear to score, but the play was pulled back after a forward pass from Petersen.
Eagles r-grouped at half-time and youngster Miller latched onto a wonderful cross-field kick from Brambani to ground the ball on debut, with Pat Walker levelling with the conversion.
The debutant bagged his second try on 51 minutes when the ball was switched to the left before darting over. Walker added the extras.
London drew level when former Eagle Matt Garside finished a well-worked move, and Naiqama slotted the conversion for a level game.
The home side edged in front when they won a penalty 40 metres from goal, and after opting to take the two, Naiqama made no mistake.
Worse was to follow for when Aston was carried off after chasing down a kick, as the hosts looked set to end the Eagles’ run of victories.
But with six minutes remaining Eagles turned the game on its head with two quick-fire scores. Yere produced another trademark burst to get over the chalk, Walker missing the extras, and three minutes later an Battye collected a flat pass before marauding over the line.
Walker added the two to clinch a last-ditch win.
London: Kear; Williams, Hellewell, Naiqama, Macani, Thomas, Keyes, Lovegrove, Henderson, Wallace, Garside, Walton, Minichella. Interchange: Cunningham, Davis, Everett, Riley.
Tries: Naiqama (5), Garside (62) Goals: Naiqama 3/4
Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae; Miller, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy, Aston, Brambani, Battye, Davey, Stringer, Langley, Straugheir, Walker. Interchange: Petersen, Scott, Davies, Thorpe.
Tries: Miller (42, 51), Yere (74), Battye (76) Goals: Walker 3/4
Referee: Jamie Bloem.