Sheffield Eagles all but secured their Championship status after bouncing back from a heavy defeat at Leigh, to beat relegation rivals Swinton Lions.
After their disappointing showing against the Centurions, where director of rugby Mark Aston accused his side of raising the ‘white flag’, the Eagles this time dug in at the start of the second-half to come from behind against a Swinton side that desperately needed a victory to stay in touch with the rest of the Betfred Championship.
With the game in the balance, and the Eagles down a man after Oscar Thomas was sent to the bin, Aston’s side found an extra gear with veteran half-back Simon Brown instrumental in helping his side over the line in the final 10 minutes.
With the Eagles now holding an eight point advantage over the relegation trap-door, with just five games remaining, they now know that they are tantalisingly close to mathematically securing themselves at second tier level for another season.
“It was a big game and it is nice to get more or less over the line,” Aston told The Star.
“Swinton are a good side and I've said it many times that Stuart Littler does a cracking job with them, so it was a tough test. We just needed to make sure that we got the result.”
The match was a tense affair to start with as both sides made mistakes, but it was the home side that had the lead as the teams departed into the sheds for the interval.
The Eagles, who welcomed back injured duo Ben Blackmore and Jon Magrin, found their form at just the right time with Brown bagging a brace of tries just after half-time, and then the same player created the crucial try for James Bentley which put Aston’s side in the driving seat.
Magrin’s late try sealed the game, with Aston now challenging his side to finish the season as strong as possible.
“We had challenged ourselves to win five games from the last seven, this was one of them,” he added.
“The boys have set themselves this objective. We got embarrassed at Leigh before when we put the white flag up as far as I'm concerned, but now we have the chance to finish the season strongly using the hard work ethic that got us the wins against the teams that we can compete with around us.”