Play-off Eagles ready to triumph in adversity

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SHEFFIELD Eagles boss Mark Aston believes that his players’ ability to “rise above adversity” could carry them to the Championship Grand Final.

The squad had been hit by injuries to key players and a two-match suspension for international centre Menzie Yere. It’s seen reserves come in and help the team gain their first win over Widnes Vikings in the first round of the play-offs.

Aston said: “It shows that you can achieve anything out of adversity – people have been injured and we’ve not been able to pick the team I might have wanted. But the quality of the squad is there and we’ve been able to bring people in.”

The Eagles will face Halifax – who knocked them out of the play-offs in the semi-finals last season – in the second elimination round.

After discussions on Monday the clubs have agreed to play at Bramall Lane on Sunday, kick-off 3pm. Halifax had wanted to play on Thursday or Friday.

Student internationals Pat Smith and Sam Scott have been drafted in and Jonny Woodcock has returned after a 16-month lay-off following a knee injury. With Yere sidelined Norfolk Park teenager Corey Hanson has taken his chance in the centres with Samoan international Misi Taulapapa who joins Hull KR at the end of the season. “We’re down to the last 18-19 players but the lads are committing and if they do that we can achieve anything,” added Aston.

“I was worried going into the Widnes game because we were struggling to get people fit. Mitch Stringer and Dane McDonald had been struggling in training. We have to take it training session by training session.”

Aston added: “Pat Smith and Sam Scott have come in and done well, Eddie Battye is working hard for his chance and Jonny Woodcock hasn’t played many games this season but has come in. They are hungry for the opportunity. It’s all about attitude and commitment. I got that for 80 minutes against Widnes.”