Sheffield Eagles edged closer to the summit of the Kingstone Press Championship after a 26–4 victory over Doncaster at a rain-soaked Keepmoat Stadium last night.
Eagles secured the bragging rights in a keenly contested derby to move level on points with Leigh at the top while Doncaster remain firmly rooted to the foot of the table after their seventh successive league defeat.
The Dons may take heart from another encouraging performance, but they lacked the clinical nature of Eagles who scored five tries to one.
Eagles chief Mark Aston reshuffled his pack by recalling winger Rob Worrincy in place of Scott Turner, whilst hooker James Davey, the injury-free Jamie Langley and prop Steve Thorpe were also back. Dons’ head coach Paul Cooke brought Lee Waterman, Stewart Sanderson, Danny Nicklas, Richard Wilkinson and Bobby Tyson-Wilson into the 13.
The Dons frustrated Eagles after a cagey start which saw both Worrincy and Davey held on the line after two lightning quick breaks from full-back Quentin Laulu-Togagae.
There was more desperate defending when Laulu-Togagae again breached the Dons’ line but Stewart Sanderson, making his 100th appearance, scampered back to make a try-saving challenge.
A minute later and the Dons’ brave resistance was broken when Briggs slipped a pass into Langley who strolled over the line for his first try for Eagles. Briggs added the extras. Briggs was heavily involved again as the Eagles inflicted more pain on the Dons. The stand-off switched an incisive pass out to the right where Misi Taulapapa squeezed over. Pat Walker missed the conversion.
The Dons threatened the Eagles line with Waterman coming close. But Eagles soaked up the pressure and dealt a hammer blow when Mitch Stringer barged his way over just before the break. Walker converted to give the visitors a 16-point advantage.
The Dons made the brighter start to the second period and hauled their way back into the game when Jansin Turgut’s kick on the last was pounced upon by Sam Doherty who reacted quickest to score. Sanderson missed the conversion.
Eagles held their nerve and despite a spirited Dons’ effort they moved a step close to maximum points when Worrincy dived over in the corner following a pass from Cory Aston. Walker missed the conversion.
The win was sealed in the dying seconds when a poor kick forward was seized upon by Aston who sprinted clear to score unopposed. Walker converted to add gloss to the Eagles’ seventh successive win in all competitions.
Doncaster: Scott; Doherty, Welham, Waterman, Sanderson, Nicklas, Wilkinson, Carbutt, Kesik, Tyson-Wilson, Turgut, Snitch, Emmett. Subs: Kelly, Clark, Waller, Foster.
Scorers: Tries: Doherty (51) Goals: Sanderson 0/1
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Worrincy, Yere, Smeaton, Taulapapa, Briggs, Aston, Battye, Davey, Thorpe, Knowles, Langley, Davies. Subs: Stringer, Walker, Carlile, Roberts.
Scorers: Tries: Langley (21), Taulapapa (26), Stringer (39), Worrincy (72), Aston (79) Goals: Briggs 1/1, Walker 2/4
Referee: Adam Gill