Widnes Vikings 36 Sheffield Eagles 6: Fourth defeat in five for Aston's men
Sheffield Eagles slumped to their fourth defeat in their last five Championship outings after being comprehensively beaten 36-6 at Widnes.
It was a night to forget for Mark Aston’s side who were second-best for long periods of the game, as the hosts enjoyed a comfortable win under the lights.
With an opportunity to move back into third position, the Eagles missed a chance to cash in on their game in hand, and are now nervously looking over their shoulder with their place in the top five under threat.
The tone was set early on with the Eagles caught completely cold in the opening stages as Widnes dominated proceedings from the first minute.
After just three minutes the hosts ran in the first of five first-half tries when Joe Lyons’ weighted grubber kick was collected by Hep Cahill who crossed, and ex-Eagle Jack Owens converted.
Aston’s side didn’t help themselves with several handling errors, but showed some defensive fortitude to survive multiple sets on their own line, with Aaron Brown collecting Josh Ganson’s grubber to stave off another wave of pressure.
The stay of execution didn’t last long as more errors gave Widnes prime position, with Owens’ pass eventually seeing Jayden Hatton over for a try.
After previously turning provider it was Owens who crossed next after collecting Danny Craven’s grubber for a converted score.
The Eagles barely threatened, with Pat Moran’s drop under no pressure 20 metres out summing up their opening stanza.
The one-way traffic continued before the hooter with Chris Dean’s converted try from another Lyons grubber, and just before the break a wonderful long pass by Owens gave Ryan Ince a try in the corner.
It was more of the same at the start of the second stanza as dangerous tackles from Anthony Thackeray and Jason Crookes gave the hosts back-to-back penalties, which ended with Keanan Brand rounding Josh Guzdek for another try.
Brand bagged another converted try soon after, before the Eagles managed to stem the tide in the final quarter.
Aston’s side were on the board 12 minutes from time when Ben Blackmore bagged a consolation score, beating Ince one-on-one, after a clever switch from Thackeray, and Pat Walker added the extras.
Widnes: Owens; Hatton, Dean, Brand, Ince; Craven, Lyons; Cahill, Ganson, J. Chapelhow; Hansen, Wilde; Johnstone. Interchange: T. Chapelhow, Walker, Norman, Leuluai.
Scorers: Tries: Cahill (3), Hatton (14), Owens (20), Dean (27), Ince (35), Brand (42, 55) Goals: Owens 4/7
Eagles: Guzdek; Millar, Ogden, Hellewell, Blackmore; Walker, Thackeray; Moran, Davey, Mason; Davies, Farrell; Brown. Interchange: Crookes, Broadbent, Makelim, Pick.
Scorers: Tries: Blackmore (68) Goals: Walker 1/1
Referee: Gareth Hewer