Eagles take off in second half

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Eagles 34 Workington Town 8

Sheffield found their rhythm in the last half-hour to take to five-matches a winning run that had threatened to come to an embarrassing end at the Don Valley Stadium last night, writes Dave Hadfield.

Not surprisingly for a side whose recent scalps include Leeds, St Helens and Warrington, the Eagles began as though thoroughly confident of adding last-placed Workington to their list of victims.

Andy Hay put them ahead after only six minutes thrusting through some weak tackling, but Sheffield wasted other good chances with careless handling before allowing Workington to strike back with their first real attack.

Again a forward was able to exploit some less than resolute defence, the Welshman Rowland Phillips forcing his way over.

Worse was to come for the Eagles, who were badly affected by the loss of their scrum-half, Mark Aston. The rare sight of a pack putting in a concerted push at a scrum saw the ball squirt out for Wayne Kitchin, who caught the Sheffield defence flat-footed and was credited with a try despite what looked suspiciously like a double movement.

Sheffield searched in vain for the fluency that has made them the form team of the last few weeks and the closest they could come to getting back on terms before half-time was when Paul Carr was held up over the line and John Lawless was brought back for a knock-on.

Workington could have gone further ahead early in the second half if their substitute, Phil McKenzie, had been able to pick up Dean Marwood's grubber kick cleanly.

Sheffield, still hesitant and bumbling, halved Town's lead, however, with a David Mycoe penalty after the lively Lawless had the ball stolen from him.

At last, Sheffield now began to string something together, their best move of the match so far seeing the ball switch from left to right touchlines for Joe Dakuitoga, the quickest of their three Fijian signings to acclimatise, to go in at the corner.

Three minutes later, Hay's break released Lynton Stott and Sheffield were belatedly in control of the situation. Mycoe's kick put them eight points ahead and then Carr broke through a tiring Workington defence to make the whole thing look a lot more comfortable than it had been.

With Workington now looking completely burnt out, Carr went in for his second followed by a first for the Eagles from the Frenchman Jean-Marc Garcia, in the last four minutes.

It was of the paradoxes of the game though, that Workington had made them look a poor side for longer than the likes of Leeds or Saints have been able to manage. There were signs of complacency last night, but Sheffield threw it off in time.

Sheffield Eagles: Gamson (Stott, 51; Dakuitoga, Stott (Price, 15), Garcia, Sodje; Lawford, Aston (Mycoe, 19); Broadbent, Lawless, McAllister (Yasa, 67, Hay, Hughes (Cook, h-t), Carr.

Workington Town: Johnson; Penrice, Pape, Fawcett, Fraisse; Marwood, Kitchin (McKenzie, h-t); Filipo (Schubert, 59), Bethwaite, Phillips, Armstrong, McGinty, Palmada.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).