Rugby League: Methodical Gateshead

Sheffield Eagles 6 Gateshead Thunder 23
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The Independent Online
GATESHEAD ARE just a fraction outside the top five after a convincing win at the Don Valley Stadium last night took them level with Castleford on points.

If Super League's new boys never quite looked like amassing the 29-point margin they needed to go above Cas they looked even less likely to lose, their sound defence and clever kicking game always keeping them well ahead of the Eagles.

As they have done pretty much since their inception, Gateshead gave the overriding impression of being a side that know exactly what they are doing. Their methodical approach paid immediate dividends when Will Robinson, later to leave the field with a hamstring injury, hoisted a high kick which Ian Herron leapt to knock back for Brett Grogan to pounce and score.

Herron could not convert that try from the touchline, nor the next, from the opposite side of the field. Again a kick began Sheffield's troubles, Bright Sodje knocking on a routine effort from John Simon and the Thunder worked the ball across the field for Deon Bird to force his way over.

Bird got over again only to be held on his back and Sheffield, despite playing rather better than they had in breaking their long losing streak against Hull on Saturday, were hanging on to prevent matters getting worse.

A minute after the break, it did get worse, again from a kick. This time Willie Peters launched the ball and Steve Collins steered it back to Craig Wilson. Herron's conversion this time was a comfortable one.

The Eagles blew their chance of a quick reply when Matt Crowther lost the ball lunging for the line after a tap penalty and Herron extended Gateshead's already solid lead with a penalty at the other end.

Grogan and Keith Senior were sent to the sin-bin for fighting as the action became increasingly petulant.

Seven minutes from time, Ben Sammut's long pass produced the fourth Thunder try for Collins, Herron landing his third goal before Rod Doyle's consolation try and Martin Pearson's goal near the end.

There was still time for Peters to tag on a drop goal and, although Gateshead remain outside the play-off zone, the strong feeling was that they will be back.

Sheffield Eagles: Sovatabua; Sodje, Powell, Senior, Crowther; Pearson, Stephens; Laughton, Lawless, Molloy, Turner, Shaw, Doyle. Substitutes used: Cardoza, Jackson, Lovell, Hardy.

Gateshead Thunder: Collins; Herron, Grogan, Bird, Daylight; Robinson, Peters; McAllister, Jenkins, Hick, Maher, Wilson, Grimaldi. Substitutes used: Sammut, Walters, Simon, Felsch.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).