The pick of this weekend’s warm-up games come at the KC Stadium as Hull FC host local rivals Hull KR in their first game since relegation to the Championship.
Albert Kelly, who recently signed for FC from KR, is in Lee Radford’s squad and the FC boss has revealed that Kelly will feature for at least thirty minutes on Sunday, per Hull Daily Mail.
KR could have numerous new signings on display such as Danny Addy, Jamie Ellis and Nick Scruton.Wakefield Trinity are the only other Super League side in action as they travel to the Tetley’s Stadium to face Dewsbury.
An all-Lancashire affair sees Swinton host Oldham as they both prepare for their second consecutive seasons in the Championship following survival last year. Featherstone Rovers, who featured in last seasons qualifiers, host Hunslet who struggled in League One in 2016.
Two National Conference sides feature in this weekend’s fixtures with Division One side Hunslet Warriors visiting League One Cup holders Keighley Cougars while Castleford Lock Lane host a Castleford Tigers Academy side.
Last seasons Championship runners-up London Broncos are looking to go one better this season and welcome the visit of the British Army in their opening warm-up fixture. The British Army will be using the game to prepare for their Challenge Cup tie with Egremont Rangers on 28th January.
The Sheffield Eagles progressed to the 5th round of the Challenge Cup even though they trailed for large periods against Swinton.
Cory Aston scored a late eight-point try as he was fouled in the act of scoring, Dave Hewitt’s two successful conversions which followed proved to be the difference. Swinton had raced into a 0-18 lead in as many minutes with tries from Stuart Littler, Macauley Hallett and Mike Morrison.
Tries from Duane Straugheir and Menzie Yere before the interval closed the gap. Ben Blackmore grabbed a second half brace before being sin-binned for fighting. Straugheir also scored a second before Aston’s late try pulled the Eagles level and gave them the chance to win the game.
The game was Mark Aston’s 500th in charge of the Sheffield Eagles and he gave appearances to Ryan Millar and Jack Blagbrough for the first time this season. Hewitt returned after missing the game with Whitehaven last weekend. Rhys Jacks and George Tyson missed out with Blackmore moving to centre.
John Duffy made several changes to his side as Liam Hyde came in at full-back with Chris Atkin moving to scrum-half in place of Matty Beharrell who missed out. Vila Halafihi and Liam Marshall dropped out whilst Greg Scott and Stephen Nash returned.
Sheffield continued their trend of starting games slowly and Swinton wasted no time punishing them. Quick hands out wide found Littler who fended off the Sheffield defenders and broke from thirty metres and raced to the line to open the scoring.
The visitors doubled their lead just minutes down the opposite flank this time. Centre Hallett was the scorer as he fought through incoming Eagles defenders and managed to plant the ball down in the corner. Morrison would follow this up to extend the Lions’ lead further QLT failed to knock the ball out of the in-goal area and the prop-forward pounced on the loose ball.
However Straugheir managed to power his way over from close range for Sheffield on the back of a repeat set to get the Eagles on the board. The hosts continued to close the gap when Yere collected the ball on the left hand side before powering over the top of Littler putting Sheffield within eight points of Swinton going into the break.
The sides exchanged tries in the early stages of a back and forth second half. Hallett was first to cross as he shrugged off two Eagles defenders near the line however it was soon cancelled out by opposition number Blackmore who took advantage of a looping pass from Aston.
QLT was the provider for the next Eagles try as his offload found Straugheir who crashed over for his second of the game again from close range. Swinton soon regained their six-point lead though as Hallett picked up QLT’s play-the-ball before anyone took the role of hooker this allowed the centre to go through for his hat-trick under the sticks. With twelve minutes remaining the Eagles got themselves back in touching distance when Blackmore scored his second out wide.
The comeback was complete with eight minutes left on the clock as a high bomb wasn’t fielded by Swinton, Hewitt reacted quickest before offloading to fellow half-back Aston who scored to tie the game. However the Eagles were awarded an eight-point try as Aston was fouled in the act of scoring which meant Hewitt had two kicks. He converted the original one before also slotting home an extra two from in front of the posts to give the home side a four-point lead.
In the closing minutes the game boiled over and Sheffield centre and try-scorer was sent to the bin for punching but the Eagles saw out the final moments with twelve men.
Sheffield bounced back from last weeks defeat to Batley in a high scoring affair with newly promoted Swinton Lions.
There were first Eagles tries for Ben Blackmore, George Tyson and Scott Wheeldon inside the first half. Quentin Laula-Togagae also scored for Sheffield whilst Chris Atkin was the lone Swinton scorer before the break.
A second-half brace from Cory Aston, a second from Blackmore as well as tries from Menzie Yere and Mitch Stringer confirmed victory for the home side. Greg Scott scored twice for Swinton in the second-half along with tries from Shaun Robinson and Macauley Hallett however the Lions were always at least three-tries behind.
Mark Aston awarded a debut to new signing Rhys Jacks who joined the Eagles midweek. Rob Worrincy returned to replace Garry Lo who picked up a wrist injury last week against Batley. Matty Fozard missed out for Sheffield through illness.
Swinton coach John Duffy named the same 17 that had lost 16-48 to Bradford Bulls last weekend.
It was a poor start from Sheffield who conceded after just three minutes. An Eagles pass went to ground and Swinton’s Atkin was quickest to react scooping up the ball and racing thirty metres. He successfully converted his try to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
Atkin continued to cause Sheffield problems but the Eagles got themselves level against the run of play. Hooker Keal Carlile picked up a loose ball before finding Blackmore who finished in the corner. Knowles converted.
Sheffield began to find their rhythm as Tyson scored his first try for the home side. He dummied before stepping through the defence to score. With ten minutes of the first half prop-forward Wheeldon powered his way over to extend the Eagles lead.
However Sheffield weren’t done yet. Some good off-the-cuff play from the Eagles allowed Yere to break before passing inside to an onrushing QLT who finished with ease. Knowles slotted the conversion and it was Sheffield 22-6 Swinton at the interval.
In similar fashion to the first half it took just three minutes for the first try but this time it went to Sheffield. The Eagles had been held up and awarded another set which allowed Yere to bundle his way over near the touchline. This didn’t stop Knowles who successfully converted.
Swinton soon replied though as Shaun Robinson managed to burrow his way under the incoming defenders to score out wide. Atkins converted from the touchline.
But Sheffield restored their three-try lead just moments later. QLT collected a deep kick before weaving his way through the chasing defence. The full-back found Yere who didn’t have the pace to make the line but he did find Aston in support who went in under the sticks. Knowles converted an exquisite try.
Mark Mexico was a handful for Swinton all evening and the big Papua New Guinean managed got himself an assist. His offload just two yards out found Aston who placed the ball down unchallenged. Knowles again converted.
The visitors weren’t done yet though scoring two tries in three minutes. Firstly winger Scott managed to slide his way through the defence before his centre Hallett also forced his way over. This put Swinton back within 18 points of Sheffield.
Blackmore grabbed his second of the evening with then minutes left as he picked up a stray ball before turning and making it to the corner. Scott scored in almost identical fashion to his first for the Lions towards the end. However Sheffield had the final say as Stringer powered his way over from close range. Knowles converted with virtually the last touch of the game.
The victory now means Sheffield have won three of their opening four Championship games this season and sit in 1st place however this could only be temporarily. As for Swinton they are still winless this season. The Eagles travel to Leigh Centurions next weekend while Swinton face the trip to Whitehaven.