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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Eagles soar after mauling Haven in second half blitz

WHITEHAVEN suffered a 12-try mauling as Sheffield Eagles romped away with the game in the final 30 minutes.

Until then Haven had been in the hunt and had twice taken the lead but their resistance was blown away at a bitterly cold Bramall Lane yesterday.

At the end some of the travelling fans made their displeasure with the team’s performance and coach Ged Stokes plain by chanting for action. The win lifted the Eagles – who had only won once before in the league this season – above Whitehaven.

Maybe this was never going to be Haven’s day. In the warm up Tom Phillips pulled up and had to be replaced at centre by Mike Darby.

Eight minutes into the game back rower Danny Barker twisted badly as he came out of a tackle on Eagles fullback Misi Taulapapa and was knocked unconscious.

Barker was motionless and the team doctor and physios gave him oxygen and he was put on a stretcher and taken to Sheffield Northern General Hospital for checks on a suspected neck injury.

Haven went behind early in the game as centre Menzie Yere blasted through the defensive line.

Following Barker’s injury second row Alex Szostak’s try increased the Eagles lead but Tangi Ropati was unable to add the goals.

Hooker Graeme Mattinson was causing the Eagles problems and linking well with Leroy Joe and Carl Rudd as Haven came back. A double substitution of Howard Hill and Marc Jackson had also given more go forward.

Haven came back into the game with Joe weighing up his options before chipping over a static Eagles line for Mark Jackson to touch down. Rudd added the goal.

Eagles started to make handling errors but these were balanced by a series of penalties conceded by Haven before they took the lead.

The referee seemed to lose count of the tackles and on the seventh Joe chipped through for Craig Calvert to race in for the try. Rudd added the goal.

The Eagles took it back before half-time with a Matty Brooks try and a Ropati goal to lead 14-12.

Three minutes after the restart Haven were back in front with Rudd trying a cheeky long kick straight up the field which left the Eagles flat-footed as Calvert raced in for his second try. Rudd added the goal.

Then things started to go wrong as Eagles prop Alex Rowe made the Whitehaven cover tackling look paper thin with power runs to score two ties with Ropati adding the goals.

The Eagles stood still as Rob Jackson raced in from dummy half and with Rudd’s goal the margin was narrowed to two points - but that was it. There was around 30 minutes to go but Haven could have been back on the bus as their resistance crumbled.

Samoan centre Ropati scored two tries either side of a touchdown by Aaron Groom. Ropati brought his goal tally to four from seven attempts before handing over the goal kicking to Lindsay.

Haven briefly made it into the Eagles half following a 40-20 but then almost immediately lost possession.

The tries just kept coming with Rowe completing his hat-trick, hooker Craig Cook twisting over by the posts from dummy half to bring up the 50 points.

In the final couple of minutes winger Ashley Thackeray touched down in the corner and Cook added his second try with Lindsay kicking his fourth goal from five.

Sheffield: Taulapapa, Thackeray, Ropati, Yere, Mills; Lindsay, Groom; Hepworth, Cook, Exton, Szostak, Green, McDonald. Subs: Hirst, Rove, Brooks, Corcoran.

Tries: Rowe (45, 47, 72), Ropati (55, 65), Cook (74, 80), Yere (3), Szostak (15), Brooks (39), Groom (58), Thackeray (77).

Goals: Ropati 4/7, Lindsay 4/5.

Whitehaven: Veivers; Eilbeck, Darby, R Jackson, Calvert; Rudd, Skee; Thornley, Mattinson, Amor, S Miller, Barker, Joe. Subs: Smith, M Jackson, Hill, R Fox.

Tries: M Jackson (21) Calvert (33, 43), R Jackson (52).

Goals: Rudd 4/4.

Referee: Matthew Thomason.

Attendance: 1,301.

Star Man: Graeme Mattinson for his first half performance.

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