Sheffield Eagles produced their best performance of their Super 8 campaign with a 53-34 defeat against Super League Salford Red Devils.
Eagles were massive underdogs but gave the Red Devils a huge scare after a terrific game of free-flowing rugby league which produced 10 tries in the first-half alone.
With five minutes remaining Eagles only trailed by six points, but Salford broke Sheffield hearts with two late tries.
Weller Hauraki opened the scoring after just five minutes from a Logan Tomkins pass but Aston’s side went on to produce a stirring first-half display.
Quentin Laulu-Togogae showed terrific improvisation with his kick in behind, and Cory Aston gathered to score, with Pat Walker converting. Then Scott Turner’s pass to Menzie Yere saw the centre gallop over after a 40 metre sprint, with Walker again adding the extras.
The hosts were further stunned when following sustained pressure the play was switched to the left where Laulu-Togagae danced his way over, with Walker again converting.
Salford’s Harrison Hansen went over from the restart, but back came Eagles when Walker’s chip was grasped by Rob Worrincy for try number four. Walker converted.
The hosts were stung into life with Josh Griffin going over with Michael Dobson converting, before Liam Hood fed Griffin again for his second try. .
Eagles held a narrow advantage but the home side found top gear with tries from Hood and Lama Tasi before the break, both converted.
Eagles hauled themselves back into contention at the start of the second half when Duane Straugheir dragged himself over the whitewash.
They could have further cut the deficit after Ben Jones-Bishop failed to deal with a high kick, but Aston couldn’t gather the loose ball.
Salford re-affirmed their grip when Iain Thornley broke the line, before expertly offloading to Niall Evalds for an easy run-in. Dobson converted.
Laulu-Togagae’s run and wonderful offload gave Scott Turner a try in the corner, and Walker converted to put his side within six points.
Salford closed the game out late on when Dobson kicked a drop goal, and Thornley and George Griffin ran in tries as the Eagles’ brave effort was finally thwarted.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy, Brambani, Aston, Battye, Carlile, Stringer, Knowles, Straugheir, Walker. Interchange: Taulapapa, Petersen, Davey, Scott.
Tries: Aston (8), Yere (10), Laulu-Togogae (21), Worrincy (26), Straugheir (45), Turner (69) Goals: Walker 5/6.