Rugby League: Eagles' dodo performance

Sheffield Eagles 8 London Broncos 50
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The Independent Online
Much has been said and written about the likely effects on British clubs of their experiences in the World Club Championship. One area that might repay further research is how teams are affected before they go to Australia.

Sheffield were due to fly to Perth at five this morning. Mentally, they were already on the plane yesterday afternoon and they paid the penalty against a London side that gleefully exploited their lack of application.

The first 40 minutes were among the most embarrassing in Sheffield's history. From the moment that their full-back, Waisale Sovatabua, dropped a bomb to give London the possession from which David Krause flipped out a one-handed pass to put Greg Barwick in, London simply ran them off their feet.

The Broncos, whose win keeps them in third place in Super League, scored six more tries in a blistering first half, the pick of them both from the long-serving Steve Rosolen.

His first was the result of a gliding run and an exquisite inside pass from Terry Matterson, before hair-trigger handling from Andrew Hamilton and Nick Mardon released him for his second.

Some of the angles the Broncos were finding, particularly through the admirable Matterson and their half-backs, Tulsen Tollett and Robbie Beazley, were a delight to the eye, but it was far too easy to be satisfying.

A combination of some half-time home truths and an inevitable tailing off in the intensity of opponents who had already done more than enough allowed the Eagles to avoid a further mauling in the second half.

Sheffield managed to spend a period in their visitors' quarter for the first time in the match, and within five minutes of the restart Keith Senior went over from close range to at least remove the zero from next to their name.

The Broncos responded with Scott Roskell's second try, when the winger reached above Lynton Stott, but then eased off a couple more notches, becoming increasingly untidy and even allowing Sheffield to score a second try through Sovatabua near the end. "We came back to their level" was the way the London coach, Tony Currie, put it.

Despite that, London look increasingly like the natural runners-up to Bradford in the Super League table. Sheffield remain a mystery, even to themselves. As against Perth in the WCC and against St Helens in their last home match, they can be cussed opponents. When they are not in that mood, as in their wretched first half yesterday, they are no opposition for anyone.

Sheffield Eagles: Sovatabua; Pinkney, Senior, Taewa, Garcia; Mycoe, Aston; Broadbent, Lawless, Wright, Turner, McAllister, Doyle. Substitutes used: Stott, Carr, Laughton, Vassilakopoulos.

London Broncos: Mardon; Roskell, Martin, Barwick, Krause; Tollett, Beazley; Mestrov, Matterson, Howard, Rosolen, Bawden, Gill. Substitutes used: Hamilton, Salter, Dumford, Spencer.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).

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