Farrell has a field day

Rugby league; Sheffield Eagles 52 Paris St-Germain 18
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The Independent Online
Sheffield Eagles, who were Paris's victims on an opening day of the season that seems a lot longer than two-and-a-half months ago, became their latest tormentors at the Don Valley stadium last night.

John Kear, the trouble-shooter sent out from Britain to try to sort them out and steer them clear of the looming likelihood of relegation from Super League, has a task of Napoleonic proportions on his hands.

The names may change in the Paris side, but their recent air of world- weariness remains the same. It took the Eagles just 80 seconds to exploit it, Matt Crowther slicing through a static defence to give Gary Grimley the scoring pass. Before long, another gap had appeared in the Paris defence, good handling by Mark Aston and Paul Broadbent sending Anthony Farrell over.

Midway through the half, they were punished when Paris's stand-in hooker, Vincent Wulf, scrambled his way over, with Danny Smith, the Australian centre sacked by the London Broncos for missing training earlier this season, adding the goal.

Shaken into action Sheffield lifted their tempo, Waisale Sovatabua's break stretching the French once again - the Fijian getting the ball away over his shoulder despite Smith's tackle for Bright Sodje to score.

Five minutes before half-time, a dashing run from the new England hooker, John Lawless, took Sheffield deep into French territory and Keith Senior's clever pass allowed Lynton Stott to squeeze in at the corner.

Straight from the kick-off to restart Eric Van Brussel, France's sole try scorer against England on Wednesday, knocked on as one of Sheffield's other Fijians, Malakai Yasa, presented Stott with a rapid repeat score.

Sheffield's other winger, Sodje, claimed his second early in the second half outrunning the tiring French from halfway. Stott, however, kept his nose in front in the try-scoring stakes, completing his hat-trick thanks to lead-up work by Ian Hughes and Sovatabua.

Crowther opened the route to the line for Farrell to become another double try scorer, with Senior soon romping through from his own half for yet another Eagles try.

One Paris player who never stopped striving was Patrick Entat, who is retiring from international rugby. His pass sent in Bagdad Yaha for one try and he then nipped through for one of his own, as Paris at least showed a flash of the sort of the spirit upon which Kear must hope to build. "Patrick is still a great player," Kear said. "But the whole side showed a lot of spunk out there tonight.

"It sounds far-fetched to say after conceding 50 points, but they defended a lot better than they have been doing and that is what we have to build on."

Sheffield Eagles: Sovatabua; Sodje, Grimley, Senior, Stott; Crowther, Aston; Broadbent, Lawless, McAllister, Hughes, Hay, Farrell. Subs used: Laughton, Yasa, Dixon, Cook.

Paris St Germain: Lucchese; Van Brussel, Smith, Banquet, Moulineque; Brown, Entat; Sands; Wulf, Cabestany, Shield, Parry, Pech. Subs used: Yaha, Bloomfield, Jampy, Devecchi.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).

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