Speed is of the essence for Eagles

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SHEFFIELD Eagles hope their speedy backs can get them off to a flying start in the first home game of the season against Leigh Centurions.

Hooker Andrew Henderson believes the extra pace could just tip the balance.

“Leigh are a tough side with a strong forward pack, clever at half-back and hooker but we can match them there,” he said.

“They probably lack a bit of pace out wide in the three-quarters and that’s a strength we have and our back line has pace and is a bit stronger.”

Leigh come to Don Valley Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm) for the Northern Rail Cup group game determined to defend the trophy they won last year.

In the opening round Leigh crushed Barrow 48-16 but the Eagles had to work hard in a 28-14 win at Workington.

Henderson said: “It’s another challenge we have to face, we took some positives from the game at Workington. It wasn’t a clinical performance but hopefully on Sunday we can improve.

“From the fans point of view it could be a nail-biter but we want to be on the winning scoreboard.”

Coach Mark Aston isn’t planning major changes, saying: “There might be one or two but nothing major.”

Quentin Laulu-Togagae could move from the bench to start at full back with fellow Samoan Misi Taulapapa switching to centre. New signing Duane Straugheir, who can play centre or in the back row, may claim a place on the bench. Leigh’s former Wakefield prop Ricky Bibey is out but new coach Paul Rowley has signed Tom Spencer from Wigan on a dual registration as a replacement.

At the same stage of the competition last year the Centurions hammered out a 68-6 victory. Revenge came for the Eagles late in the season when they beat Leigh in the play-offs to reach their first Grand Final.

Aston added: “It will be a great game against one of the top teams.”