Sheffield Eagles v Rochdale Hornets
Sunday 10th September 2017, 15:00pm
Super 8s - Round: 6
Stats over last 7 encounters
HORNETS LOOKING TO SECURE SAFETY AGAINST SHEFFIELD
Rochdale Hornets will be hoping it is third time lucky when they take on Sheffield Eagles on Sunday, in the penultimate round of the Championship Shield.
Alan Kilshaw’s men travel to Belle Vue, home of Super League club Wakefield Trinity, for their third meeting with the Eagles this season.
Unfortunately, on their two previous clashes with Mark Ashton’s side they have been on the wrong end of heavy defeats.
The first time they met was in a Good Friday clash at The Crown Oil Arena, where Gary Lo inspired the visitors to a 42-18 victory with a hat-trick in a man of the match display.
Josh Crowley and Lewis Galbraith scored for the defeated hosts, while departed Hornet Samir Tahraoui was also on the scoresheet.
If they though Lo was destructive in their first encounter, it was nothing compared to his performance in the return fixture back in round 16.
He touched down for five times as Sheffield picked up a 38-14 triumph to round off a double in this fixture, as the winger made eight tries in two games against the Hornets.
Rob Massam helped himself to a brace, but it was Jono Smith who registered Rochdale’s first points as they went into the break trailing 8-6.
With the game in the balance they needed to get on the front foot in the second half, but a disastrous start saw them ship three tries and fall 18 points behind.
They left themselves too much to do, and despite the best efforts of Massam, they couldn’t force their way back into the game.
Previous to their last visit to Belle Vue, Hornets had picked up a big derby victory over Oldham in the Summer Bash, running out 38-28 winners.
And this time out they have picked up an equally important win over local rivals prior to their trip to Wakefield, however on this occasion it was Swinton Lions who they defeated last Sunday.
The pressure was on as only one point separated the two teams, but a gutsy performance from Kilshaw’s men saw them come out on top 16-8.
It wasn’t their most impressive display in attack, although the resilience shown in defence was enough to grind down their opponents.
With the scores locked at 2-2 at the break, a Yates penalty goal and Dec Kay try opened up an eight point led in the second half.
Ilias Bergal replied for the away side, before Lewis Foster’s score proved to be the killer blow and secured the most crucial two points of Rochdale’s season.
As it stands they are three points clear of the drop zone, and their survival would be confirmed if they pick up a win over Sheffield, or if Swinton and Oldham’s fixture doesn’t end in a draw.
They will be without a number of key players once again for this weekend’s clash, as Ben Moores has been ruled out for the season by suspension, and Gary Middlehurst’s broken hand ended his campaign early.
Massam is unavailable for the remaining two games, and a second concussion in three weeks also drew a line under Smith’s 2017.
Ant Walker has been a revelation since joining the club late in the season, however he is also out for the season after sustaining a concussion of his own against Swinton.
Miles Greenwood and Lewis Palfrey are back in contention though to offset some of their losses, as the Hornets look to end the season strong.