Sheffield Eagles’ are ‘back in the mire’ according to coach Mark Aston who cited their failure to produce a consistent 80 minutes again as the primary reason for the latest setback.
It certainly seems to be one step forward two steps back for Aston, with the frustrated director of rugby looking behind and not in front after Sunday’s defeat to Swinton Lions.
Whilst the two previous performances suggested that the Eagles had turned the corner, Aston was left to lament previous failings which again came to the fore, with the 50-year-old venting his annoyance that his troops struggled to put lengthier stretches of positive play together during games.
Even in the positive displays against London and Barrow recently, Aston noted sections of the game when his side dipped their standards, and against Swinton it was their failure to extend a positive opening 20 minutes that got Aston’s back up.
“We did it for 20 minutes, we were very good for that first 20 minutes then we just went away from it,” said Aston.
“We are back in the mire. They are up to six points and we are now on eight. It will go down to the wire this year.”
The Betfred Championship is starting to take a noticeable pattern with the bottom four clubs, which includes the Eagles, set to fight it out to avoid the dreaded two relegation spots.
Until Sunday’s result, the Eagles had enjoyed great success against the teams around them, but the defeat to Lions is a psychological dent for Aston’s side, with the end of regular season split now on the horizon.
Dewsbury in ninth have now fallen four points behind Barrow, with the scrap for survival set to go all the way in what is set to be a crucial period for the Eagles’ long-term rebuilding ambitions.
More concerning for Aston is the team that were beaten was close to his full strength outfit after a season dominated by injury troubles.
During the week before the game, Aston commented on how well his side had trained, but it seems old habits are still under the surface as he again stated the inability to put the game plan on show.
“I am really disappointed with them because we didn’t serve up what we talked about,” Aston added.
“They (Swinton) thoroughly deserved it. We were off the ball. We got beat by a team that wanted it more than us and were more disciplined than us.”