TORONTO WOLFPACK 68 – 4 SHEFFIELD EAGLES
Toronto Wolfpack were crowned as the Betfred Championship League Leaders thanks to a comprehensive victory over Sheffield Eagles. The 16th win in a row guarantees the Wolfpack top spot in the Championship with three games to spare, and crucially a play off schedule of 4 home games in Toronto and 3 away games in the UK and/or France. The post game schedule will be confirmed in early August.
As part of the Make a Wish Foundation initiative, which the Wolfpack had openly supported in the build up to this game, there was a real feel good aspect at Lamport Stadium, with a big crowd turning up to ultimately see their side lift their third piece of silverware in less than two seasons.
The Wolfpack were simply dominant from start to finish and combined a controlled and patient first half with a completely clinical second half performance to earn their 18th win of the league campaign and confirmed their status as the most consistent side in the division.
Toronto have defended the Den admirably since touching back down in Canada only five weeks ago, after months on the road, and have now scored over 60 points in three of their last four outings.
Sheffield produced a battling first half performance, but Toronto made amends from last week’s second half defensive lapses against Leigh by shutting the Eagles out and scoring 40 unanswered points after half time to kick off the celebrations in style.
Ashton Sims and Adam Higson made successful returns from injury and had plenty of impact, with the former holding the League Leaders Shield aloft after the game as Toronto ensured that they will have four more home games once the all important Super 8s kick off in three weeks’ time.
Toronto Head Coach Paul Rowley was happy not only to secure the silverware but was ultimately satisfied with an 80 minute performance from his side. He said:
“It’s good to get the silverware in the manner we did. I thought it was a very polished performance and we were up near 100% completions in the second half which is always good.”
“I’m really happy for the boys. It’s reward for all their hard work and leads us in well to the real business end of the season in the Middle 8s.”
Rowley remained focused on the task in hand for 2018, admitting that the immediate focus was preparing for the play offs in the march towards promotion. He added:
“We like a party over here but we won’t get carried away, we know there is still business to be done this year.”
Man of the match Liam Kay was happy with the achievements of his team mates after the game but echoed the thoughts of his coach, with the League Leaders Shield a stepping stone towards their ultimate goal. Kay said:
“In the second half we were very consistent, and it was nice to get over for a break away try at the end there.”
“We came top of League 1 last year and we’ve finished top of the Championship this year so that is a big indication of where the club is going and hopefully we’ll get the bigger one at the end of the year which is ultimately the Super League.”
The Wolfpack got off to the perfect start, opening the scoring inside five minutes through Chase Stanley, who finished a flowing passing move to score in the right corner.
Toronto doubled their lead before the ten minute mark following a Sheffield penalty. Ryan Brierley came off his right foot before jinking his way through the defence to touch down next to the posts.
The first quarter had been played almost entirely down Sheffield’s end but the visitors managed to respond in ideal fashion with a length of the field try.
With the Wolfpack looking dangerous coming forward, Jake Spedding picked off Gareth O’Brien’s pass to race clear from his own try line and had just enough speed to evade the chasers to score.
Toronto responded well, piling the pressure on the Eagles try line to notch up two tries in as many minutes to take complete control of the contest.
Bob Beswick barged his way over from dummy half and he was swiftly joined on the scoresheet by Rich Whiting, who supported an O’Brien break up the middle for the Wolfpack’s fourth of the afternoon.
Tempers flared shortly after. A shoulder charge from Eagles captain Matt James on O’Brien sparked a melee which resulted in the loose forward being sent to the sin bin for the offence, leaving Sheffield down to twelve men for the remainder of the first half.
The hosts made the extra man count just before the break as Adam Higson marked his return from injury with a try, taking a wonderful cut out pass from Brierley to score untouched.
After ending the scoring in the first half, Higson opened the scoring in the second; climbing highest to Brierley’s cross-field kick to grab his second.
Nick Rawsthorne was in the right place at the right time to score only minutes after coming onto the field to put Toronto out of sight. Whiting looked to be heading for the line before the ball was pulled out of his grasp into the path of Rawsthorne, who dotted down for a simple try.
The dominance of the Pack continued with another try to Blake Wallace, who kept up his red hot form with another eye catching individual try, displaying more neat foot work to score to the left of the posts for his sixth try in three matches.
O’Brien got in on the scoring action just after the hour mark as he supported another neat Andy Ackers break to take the Wolfpack over the 50 points mark.
Sheffield were battling hard but has no answer to the Wolfpack, who scored three more quick fire tries in the final quarter of an hour to really give the win some gloss.
Another perfect cut out pass from Brierley gave Stanley the space out wide to beat his man and claim his second of the afternoon before Kay scored the try of the game.
An Eagles attack broke down on the Toronto line and Kay was able to hack the ball forward with the boot on two occasions, beating every Sheffield chaser to take the bouncing ball cleanly and score a length of the field try.
Andrew Dixon raced into a hole in the final minute to score the Pack’s 12thtry of the afternoon to round off the scoring and see the Wolfpack crowned as league leaders with three matches remaining.
Air Transat 1st Star: Liam Kay continues to show his worth as one of the most dangerous and consistent wingers in the league. The Ireland international worked tirelessly out of the back field and was defensively superb on the left edge. It wouldn’t have been a Wolfpack game without a Kay try, as he popped up with a length of the field effort in the final ten minutes to send the home crowd wild.
Air Transat 2nd Star: Ryan Brierley
Air Transat 3rd Star: Adam Sidlow
31 Gareth O’Brien
19 Adam Higson
3 Greg Worthington
33 Chase Stanley
5 Liam Kay
17 Blake Wallace
7 Ryan Brierley
32 Darcy Lussick
9 Bob Beswick
10 Ashton Sims (C)
11 Andrew Dixon
22 Rich Whiting
29 Jake Emmitt
Subs (all used)
21 Olsi Krasniqi
14 Andy Ackers
15 Adam Sidlow
23 Nick Rawsthorne
Tries: Stanley (5, 69), Brierley (9), Beswick (26), Whiting (28), Higson (38, 45), Rawsthorne (48), Wallace (51), O’Brien (61), Kay (73), Dixon (80)
Goals: O’Brien 10/12
29 Corey Makelim
25 Jake Spedding
4 Joshua Toole
3 Menzie Yere
1 Ryan Miler
6 Oscar Thomas
23 Cory Aston
8 Mark Offerdahl
9 Matty Fozard
12 Shaun Pick
27 Jack Ashworth
15 Oliver Davies
13 Matt James (C)
Subs (all used)
20 Max Garcia
14 Greg Burns
22 Paddy Burns
18 Mike Weldon
Tries: Spedding (20)
Goals: Thomas 0/1
Dismissals: Matt James (sin bin)
Penalty count: 10-4
Referee: S Race
Half time: 28-4
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 12-0, 12-4, 18-4, 24-4, 28-4, 34-4, 40-4, 46-4, 52-4, 56-4, 62-4, 68-4