Sheffield Eagles began the 2017 Championship season with a defeat after going down 26-10 to Oldham at Bower Fold.
The Eagles were in front at the interval, but the hosts moved through the gears in the second half as Mark Aston’s new-look side, who were threatened with extinction a few months ago, started the new campaign with a loss.
Aston gave full debuts to new signings Perry Whiteley, Dane Chisholm, Kyle Trout and Jordan Cox, whilst the returning Will Hope, Simon Brown and Sam Scott kicked off their second spells with the club. Aston also included front-rower Lachlan Burr who started his first game for the club under the Eagles’ dual-registration agreement with Leigh Centurions.
With all the pre-season talk mainly confined to off field matters, the Eagles were keen to keep the focus on their performance on the pitch.
And they made the perfect start. On five minutes one of the top performers of last season, Matty Fozard, made a determined break to force himself over the whitewash, with Brown converting.
The visitors’ defence held up well to a spell of pressure from the Roughyeds, with Ben Blackmore’s superb challenge on Kieran Gill denying the hosts.
Just past the half-hour Mark Danny Langtree dived over for Oldham after Garry Lo fumbled a grubber kick, but Scott Leatherbarrow’s conversion was unsuccessful.
The Eagles threatened before the break but Scott Turner and Blackmore both saw yellow just before the hooter.
Oldham came out firing for the second half and went in front after Chisholm’s error eventually led to a try for Sam Gee, converted by Leatherbarrow.
The hosts rubbed further salt into the wounds when ex-Eagle Dave Hewitt ran 50 yards for Oldham’s third try, converted by Leatherbarrow.
A Leatherbarrow penalty extended the advantage for Oldham, but the Eagles gave themselves a lifeline when Blackmore’s brilliant offload provided a try for Ryan Millar. Brown then missed a tough conversion.
The Eagles came close late on when Brown’s chip over the top was collected by Chisholm, but his return pass looking for Brown didn’t find its target. Langtree then bagged his second converted try, before a late Leatherbarrow penalty sealed the points for Oldham.
OLDHAM: Turner; Clay, Egodo, Grimshaw, Gill; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Neal; Wood, Langtree; Spencer. Interchange: Hughes, Gee, Ward, Dickinson.
Tries: Langtree (35, 77) Gee (42), Hewitt (50)
Goals: Leatherbarrow 5/6
EAGLES: Blackmore; Lo, Yere, Whiteley, Millar; Brown, Chisholm; Wheeldon, Fozard, Burr; James, Hope; Minchella. Interchange: Mexico, Trout, Scott, Cox.
Tries: Fozard (5), Millar (64)
Goals: Brown 1/2