Sheffield boss Simon Stead says he couldn’t have been more encouraged by his side’s opening performance of the season.
The Tigers romped to a 59-31 home triumph over Newcastle in the Championship Shield on Thursday with three members going unbeaten by an opponent.
But it was actually the two lowest points scorers of the night who Stead was keen to highlight more than anyone else: “You look down the score chart and Kyle Howarth, Lasse Bjerre and Todd Kurtz all got double figures which probably won’t come as too much of a shock to a lot of people,” Stead said.
“They were here last year and they know Owlerton well now. Charles Wright enjoyed a dream debut scoring 16+2 but I have to say I was really impressed with the reserves.
“James Shanes demonstrated the never say die attitude he is well known for and was part of a couple of 5-1s and it was great to see Jack (Smith) finish with a paid win as well.
“He was never off the pace as such and for him to get out of the starts like he did in Heat 14 and get that paid win was a nice way for him to end his first meeting for Sheffield.
“We spent a fair bit of time with the two reserves and I think that paid off in the end.
“While as a team we’ll face much, much tougher tests than Newcastle, for James and Jack that will probably be one of their hardest fixtures at Owlerton all season.
“Apart from Berwick maybe, the way Newcastle have built their side means they’ve got solid reserves with plenty of experience at this level.
“So from that point of view, I thought their overall performance was brilliant and there’s certainly even more to come from them as the season progresses.”
And ahead of next Thursday’s league opener against Peterborough (April 12, 7.30), Stead has also hailed his side’s togetherness: “That was something that was evident right from track walk,” he said. “They’ve all gelled instantly as a group and as we saw last season, that group spirit can be worth so much throughout the year.”