Sheffield Eagles v Rochdale Hornets
Sunday 30th September 2018, 15:00pm
Super 8s - Round: 7
Stats over last 8 encounters
Hornets Complete Great Escape on Final Day
ROCHDALE Hornets travelled to Olympic Legacy Park knowing anything more than a defeat would do, should their Greater Manchester colleagues, Swinton, lose at Batley.
As Swinton were blown away in the second half at Mount Pleasant, Hornets played some of their best football of the season against an Eagles side they haven’t managed to overcome in well over a decade.
Sheffield started the brighter of the two, piling on immediate pressure from the kick off and back to back sets on the Hornets line allowed the break through as Blake Broadbent pounced on a bobbling kick to score, Oscar Thomas added the extras for 6-0.
Hornets response was robust and immediate the first time they had the ball in hand. Committed carries in midfield laid a platform for Danny Yates who dinked a kick over the top for Toby Adamson to gather and muscle his way through three Eagles defenders to reach out and score.
With wind swirling around Olympic Legacy Park, the Eagles exploited it perfectly, bombing Hornets outside backs with a barrage of towering kicks. On the back of a Tyler Whittaker knock on, the home side camped on Hornets line and forced four back to back sets and with Hornets soaking up the pressure, Fozzard eventually spilled the ball.
Despite turning over possession, the Eagles put more pressure on Hornets moments later and in a desperate bid to bludgeon their way to the line, Menzie Yere flapped at a cut out ball and Deon Cross didn’t need asking twice as he scooped up the ball and raced 80m for the score.
The momentum shifted as four minutes later, Lee Mitchell crossed again for Hornets, hitting a Danny Yates pass at full speed to break the Sheffield line and cross to the left of the sticks. Whittaker on target with the conversion and Hornets leading 6-14.
Minutes later is was Whittaker again on target from 40m with a penalty goal which sent Hornets in at half time ten points up and looking comfortable at 6-16.
The second half started the same way as the first with Greg Burns striking from close range in the 44th minute to cut the deficit, however, Hornets responded through Jack Fox who galloped in at the corner thanks to a great ball from Yates. Whittaker on target for 12-22.
With Hornets in total control, it was hard to see a way back for Sheffield, but back to back scores on the right edge levelled up at 22-22 with 18 minutes left.
The visitors though continued to play and as Tyler Whittaker put a last play kick up, Jake Spedding spilled the ball into the arms of Joe Taira who muscled over for a try – Whittaker hit the upright with the conversion.
With just four points separating the sides, Hornets were hoping to hold out for the hooter. Robust defence in the middle of the park limited Sheffield’s metres and had Hornets back in the driving seat. Strong build up play in the final third laid the platform for a dramatic finish as Tyler Whittaker was almost caught in possession on the last tackle, he managed to shake off his man and dance through the Eagles line in the 79th minute to reach out and score
Converting his own try, Whittaker extended the lead to 22-32 with seconds to spare.
The great escape: completed.