Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston has challenged his side to back up their second half display in the Challenge Cup against London Broncos this evening.
The Eagles are back in league action looking to kick start their top four challenge, but face a stern test of their credentials against a London side who have made steady progress under former Eagle Andrew Henderson.
After a tough first season at Championship level for the Broncos, the former Super League outfit have come back strong this season and are currently level on points with pace-setters Leigh Centurions.
“It is a big one, there is no doubt that this is a massive game for us on Friday,” Aston told The Star.
“The performance at Wakefield was massive for us. We went there and had a proper dig, and from that we need to take confidence and belief that we can compete. For large parts of that game last week I thought that we were competitive. We still aren’t happy, we still let 44 points in and we lost, but we did get a reaction.”
Aston has received a boost with news that experienced second-rower Scott Wheeldon has recovered from his calf problem, which ruled him out of the recent defeats at Oldham and Wakefield. Winger Ben Blackmore is also available again, but Duane Straugheir is out with a fractured eye socket, whilst youngster Jack Blagbrough also misses out on the 19-man squad.
Aston now knows the importance of picking up results as the Eagles look to avoid being cast adrift in the race for a coveted top four position. He has pinpointed tonight’s game as pivotal as he looks to steer his side back to winning ways.
“We need to start the ball rolling now on Friday but we know that this will be a tough ask because London are a top quality outfit,” Aston added.
“Hendo has got them playing really well, but again it is all about us having that bit of belief and confidence.
“Getting that belief and confidence will come off the back of a good defence, and I thought at Wakefield, particularly in that second half, we were solid.
“That’s where everything is built, on the back of good defence. I thought our big fellas really fronted up in the first 20 minutes last week. We challenged them by showing them videos and saying that they haven’t been tough, but they’ve responded.”