Rugby League: Creative Powell uplifts Eagles

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Eagles. .18

St Helens. . . . . .6

SHEFFIELD EAGLES greatly improved their chance of finishing in the top eight of the First Division for the first time in their 10-year history last night by completing a League double that was also a first for the club, writes David Hadfield.

The Eagles could hardly have started with more sparkle and enterprise than David Fraisse, making ground down the left almost at will. One of his sorties produced a penalty for Mark Aston to open the scoring

after Saints' young scrum-half, John McAtee, had stolen the ball.

It was predictable that Fraisse should be responsible for the first try, taking a reverse pass from the creative Daryl Powell and crossing under the posts to leave Aston a straightforward second goal.

A refreshing determination to keep the ball alive brought a well- deserved second Sheffield try when Lee Jackson got a tumbling pass away to Paul Broadbent, who showed deft handling to link with Aston and send Mark Gamson over.

Saints, who looked suspiciously as though minds were wandering towards their Challenge Cup semi- final in two weeks time, could manage only a penalty from Paul Loughlin, who also hit a post with an easier chance.

Straight after the interval the visitors found some of the incisiveness that had been missing, as Tea Ropati's long pass sent Loughlin through an inviting gap for a try which brought them within six points.

Saints also showed more resolve when they came under sustained pressure for the next 10 minutes, but clung on to preserve their hopes of salvaging something from the match. Those hopes disappeared 15 minutes from time when Gamson claimed his second try, prodding through a kick and following up to score, with Aston again adding the goal.

The introduction of Va'aiga Tuigamala's brother-in law, Afi Leuila, saw the newcomer heavily involved in the last few minutes but he could do nothing to save Saints from the loss of their seven-match unbeaten run.

Saints now face an uphill task to win a place in the top four and a home match in their defence of the Premiership and they will also need to be more consistently purposeful if they are to have a chance of beating Leeds in the cup.

Sheffield Eagles: Gamson; Picksley, Price, Fraisse, Plange; Powell, Aston; Broadbent, Jackson, Cook, Carr (Sheridan, 22), McGuire (Hughes, 67), Farrell (Carr, 67).

St Helens: Hunte; Riley, Ropati, Loughlin, Sullivan; Martyn (Leuila, 67), McAtee; Dannatt, Hodgkinson, Pickavance, Joynt, Dwyer, Cooper.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).