Sheffield Eagles in confident mood ahead of tough Leigh test

Michael Knowles has been Eagles' star performer this term
Michael Knowles has been Eagles' star performer this term
Have your say

It’s a bit like hill walking for Sheffield Eagles; as they reach one summit there’s another maybe just that little bit tougher looms ahead.

They are on track after Easter victories at Doncaster and Featherstone Rovers extended the winning run to eight games.

Now the challenge gets somewhat steeper with Championship leaders Leigh Centurions set to march on the Keepmoat.

Eagles will go into the game confident with coach Mark Aston believing they “took a massive step” in the 33-4 crushing of Featherstone.

“We are ready for the next challenge but we have to keep our feet on the ground,” he said.

“I’ve watched Leigh and they are playing well but we’ll be really geared up for it.

“They will have seen our score and will know we’re getting that little bit of form. These are the games you want to play in, the games you want to coach in.”

The Lancashire team took the league title from the Eagles last season and have a 100 per cent record this year.

They have spent big – slamming the door on bids to lure away half-back Ryan Brierley and bringing in former NRL star Fuifui Moimoi – with the target promotion to the Super League.

Sunday’s game offers a mouth-watering prospect with two teams that believe in attacking play and boasting the competition’s most mean defences (Leigh have conceded 78 points to Eagles’ 81).

Leigh have a full-time squad and can be expected to be dangerous in the final 20 minutes when that advantage could kick in.

Countering that the Eagles forward pack with Mitch Stringer, Jamie Langley, Tony Tonks and Michael Knowles - the team’s standout player this season - will relish the challenge.

Much could depend on the half-backs with the Centurions reaping the benefits of a regular partnership in Martyn Ridyard and Brierly while the Eagles have chopped and changed.

If it is a tight game, goal kicking will be vital. And be warned; Ridyard kicked 14 in the Easter games to bring his total to 42.

After disposing of bottom of the table Doncaster 26-4 Eagles anticipated a tough test at Featherstone but didn’t give the flat-cappers a chance with first half tries from backs Menzie Yere, Scott Turner, Quentin Laulu-Togagae and Misi Taulapapa.

Tries after the restart from Yere and Pat Walker, who kicked four goals, plus a drop goal from Michael Knowles rounded up a 33-4 win.

Aston said: “You have to give yourself a chance to win the big games and I was proud of the lads at Featherstone.

“We had aggression in abundance.”