VIDEO – Sheffield Eagles 36 Widnes Vikings 18: Wembley history created once again by soaring Eagles
SHEFFIELD EAGLES made Wembley history for the second time with an emphatic win over Widnes Vikings in the inaugural 1895 Cup final.
Twenty one years after shocking Wigan Warriors in the biggest-ever Challenge Cup final upset, the Eagles proved too strong for their Betfred Championship rivals, despite trailing twice.
Leeds Rhinos academy product Aaron Brown bagged a hat-trick and Anthony Thackeray, signed in the off-season from Featherstone Rovers, was named man of the match.
Eagles went in at the break six points behind, after wiping out an early 12-0 deficit, but three tries in the opening 14 minutes of the second half laid the platform for a dominant performance in the final 40.
Sheffield are coached by Mark Aston who was man of the match in their famous win over Wigan 21 years ago.
His assistant Keith Senior played that day and teammate Paul Broadbent’s son Blake was among yesterday’s substitutes.
Early on it looked like being Widnes’ day - despite them losing Hull-bound hooker Jordan Johnstone to a serious facial injury after just four minutes - as Sheffield were stunned by back-to-back tries, on 13 and 16 minutes.
Harrison Hansen went over from Patrick Ah Van’s offload and in the next set Tom Gimore’s pass sent Ed Chapelhow into space and Chris Dean was in support to score.
It took Eagles 21 minutes to mount their first serious attack and it resulted in a try to Brown, who dummied over from acting-half on the last tackle.
Four minutes later, Widnes were attacking on their left when Thackeray stole the ball from Jack Owens and raced 70 metres to cross unopposed.
Patch Walker converted both and Sheffield had a try disallowed when Oliver Davies’ pass to Josh Gudzek was ruled forward.
Five minutes before the interval Widnes went back in front through Gilmore who went over from acting-half and Owens booted his third goal, but they were shut out after that.
Sheffield made a dream start to the second half, Joel Farrell touching down for an unconverted try after Walker’s kick had evaded Jayden Hatton behind Widnes’ line.
From the ridiculous to the sublime, Eagles regained the lead with a superb try on 48 minutes
Sheffield attacked from deep, Ben Blackmore kept the ball in play with an offload which Guzdek collected and his pass was finished by Brown.
Walker converted, but was then off-target with a long-range penalty. The kick went dead and in the set from the restart Thackeray and Guzdek combined brilliantly to carve out an opening for Corey Makelim, whose touchdown was improved by Walker.
The normally accurate stand-off missed with another penalty shot early in the final quarter, but converted Brown’s hat-trick try, which came five minutes from time following a knock-on by Hatton and then booted a penalty as the hooter sounded.