A first Sheffield Eagles Report by Dan Fowler from the Keepmoat Stadium
(photos by Debbie Knight)
Sheffield Eagles 40-6 London Broncos.
Sheffield Eagles recorded their first win of the 2015 season on Sunday afternoon with a comprehensive 40-6 win over London Broncos. An Eight try performance from the hosts was a brilliant response to losing the first game of the season, to Dewsbury Rams. London will have been disappointed with such a crushing defeat, as well as having numerous players go off the field injured during the tie.
The Eagles opened the scoring through Michael Knowles after two minutes, a perfect start to proceedings for the South Yorkshire side. Dominic Brambani sliced the easy looking conversion wide, however. After the Knowles score, the half-backs of both sides took centre stage as an astute kicking battle ensued.
The experience of Kyle Briggs and Brambani faced off against the youthful pairing of Joe Keyes and Oscar Thomas. The next try of the match, ironically, came off a kick as Jon Molloy scored on debut for Sheffield. A Briggs grubber couldn’t be gathered by the Broncos in what was a very disappointing defensive set for the capital club. Brambani added the extras.
The start of the Broncos injury worries came around the twenty minute mark as Joe Keyes hobbled off. To rub salt in the wound, Sheffield scored off the resulting set thanks to Quentin Laulu-Togagae who was assisted by Brambani. The latter duly added the two points from near the sticks. From the restart, Molloy gathered the ball and broke the Broncos defensive line. After running 40 metres, the on loan second-rower was stopped by Richie Mathers. It was an awkward looking tackle resulting in the full-back being stretchered off.
After the break in play, both teams were battling for the next score as it was of vital importance. Wes Naiqama was held up for the Broncos just short of the half an hour mark, after good work from half-back Thomas. Despite the threat from Naiqama in attack, Broncos conceded their fourth try of the game on the 34th minute mark courtesy of Briggs. London committed the cardinal sin of knocking on in their own twenty metre area and the Eagles made them pay. Brambani failed with his conversion attempt which left the half-time score at 20-0.
The opening stages of the second half mirrored the first, with a try for the hosts. London were failing to deal with kicks into dangerous areas during the game, and it was their downfall once more as a Briggs grubber made its way to Misi Taulapapa who recorded his first try of the season. Brambani, once again, missed with the boot as windy conditions hit the Keepmoat Stadium. Good work from Taulapapa partly created the Eagles’ second try of the half, ten minutes after their first.
A Cory Aston chip was palmed back by the Samoan winger which paved the way for Sam Smeaton to score. A change of kicker didn’t help Sheffield’s fortunes in the conversion stakes though, Patch Walker couldn’t add two points on to Smeaton’s four. 28-0 to the Eagles after 55 minutes but London would soon get their points tally rolling. Rhys Williams made the most of Steve Thorpe’s knock-on as he touched down on the free play. Wes Naiqama converted the try as London looked to restore some parity with twenty minutes of the game remaining.
As the game wore on, the Broncos ended their attacking sets in a poor manner. Thomas put in many bombs and grubbers without really troubling Mark Aston’s Eagles. The game was well into the last ten minutes when Duane Straugheir got on the scoreboard after London let an Eagles player offload despite thinking the tackle was complete. Walker converted for 34-6 to the hosts, and they were eying up the 40 point mark.
The target was reached after the hooter had sounded, an audacious chip forward by Brambani was met by an onrushing Scott Turner who added to his try against Dewsbury the week prior. Walker added the extras from in front of the posts, rounding off a great first day at the Keepmoat Stadium office for Sheffield. A lot to work on for London, though, as Leigh Centurions are next up for Joey Grima’s men.