Director of rugby Mark Aston spoke of his pride in his Sheffield Eagles side after giving Super League heavyweights Hull FC a real run for their money on Sunday.
Trailing 22-0 at half-time in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup, some sides would have crumbled to a heavy defeat, but the Eagles showed terrific spirit to reduce the deficit to 10 points before having a Scott Turner try ruled out for a forward pass.
Hull scored two late tries to give the scoreline a flattering look but Aston was delighted with the way his side competed against their full-time counterparts. Howeve,r he couldn’t help but reflect on what might have been.
“In the first half we made far too many mistakes but in the second half we were revved up and got ourselves in the game,” Aston told The Star.
“At 22-12 we had a try disallowed so it could and should have been 22-18 and then they are twitching a little bit. I am immensely proud that they got themselves in the arm wrestle again, but at the back end we have presented them with a couple of tries from our own mistakes.”
For spells including the first 15 minutes and the majority of the second half the Eagles did not look out of place against a side that had just recorded back-to-back Super League successes against St Helens and Widnes Vikings.
While Aston was pleased with the way his side handled the big occasion, he is still looking to iron out some imperfections ahead of a tough Championship double-header against Halifax and Bradford Bulls.
“I am proud of the lads but I am also disappointed because we presented them with a number of tries, which has now happened for the second week on the bounce,” he continued.
“We lost a massive game against Leigh because we gave tries away and we did it again against Hull, but in the second half we did give ourselves a chance, which was really pleasing.”
Due to James Coppinger’s testimonial, the Eagles switched from their temporary home at The Keepmoat to Bramall Lane, and Aston admitted it was good to be back in the Steel City even if it was for one game only.
“It is a great facility isn’t it and we are indebted to Kevin McCabe and the people at Sheffield United for letting us play,” he said. “We didn’t want to be outside the city. It was great to be back and hopefully we will be back within Sheffield in 12 months.”