St Helens 52 Sheffield Eagles 26: Aston proud of battling Eagles after Saints loss

Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston heaped praise on his beaten side after the Championship outfit gave Super League’s St Helens a late Cup scare.

Eagles fought back from 46-10 down to rattle in three late tries, which was testament to the spirit and skill of the Championship side.

Coach Aston said: “Quality teams score points, quick points and we spoke about that – teams like St Helens can blast you away. They had a lot of ball but we showed a lot of character.

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“They scored three tries off three mistakes, but we showed some attitude and stuck in there towards the end.

“We asked a lot of questions and scored some good tries towards the end.

“I can take a lot of positives, particularly with us being part-time, yet we still stuck in there and went to the final minutes.

“The players don’t know when to give in and get together collectively. They have come off the game today feeling proud, with their heads held high.”

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St Helens’s win came at a price as they lost Andrew Dixon (hip), Nathan Ashe (knee) and Kyle Eastmond (groin) during the game.

All three are now doubtful for Saturday’s table-topping tussle against Huddersfield.

Saints boss Royce Simmons said: “Dixon got a bruised hip and could not go back on.

“Nathan Ashe had already had a knee problem but played with it and then Kyle Eastmond suffered a groin strain late on and had to be brought off.”

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Saints had the game wrapped up by half-time but Sheffield rallied late in the second half with three tries from Quentin Laulu-Togagae to make the scoreline respectable.

Simmons said: “Sheffield were good and we knew they could play some good footy and run the ball.

“Once we got a comfortable lead it seemed as though we started thinking about Huddersfield next week and not getting hurt. If you do that a side like Sheffield can score some points.”

Once again Francis Meli impressed, grabbing two tries and sending Jamie Foster in for a brace. “You know your centre is playing well when your winger is scoring tries and Jamie crossed for a couple,” said Simmons.

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St Helens: Ashe, Gardner, Shenton, Meli, Foster, Wilkin, Eastmond, Graham, Roby, Perry, Soliola, Flannery, Magennis. Substitutes: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Ashurst, Dixon, Armstrong.

Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae, Mills, Yere, Hanson, Bergin, McDonald, Brown, Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Substitutes: Rowe, Hepworth, Battye, Scott.

Referee: B Taylor (Wakefield).