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2012 - Champions At Last

After reaching the Grand Final in 2011 but losing, 2012 saw the Eagles reaching the Grand Final again but this time winning.

Following on from a successful 2011 season, Mark Aston looked to maintain the majority of his squad, providing stability and continuity that paid off as the season progressed.

The Squad

Loanee Vinnie Finigan was offered and accepted a permanent contract, whilst Peter Green was awarded a further two year deal, with Alex Rowe, Jack Howieson, Ryan Hepworth and Dane McDonald given one year extensions. Misi Taulapapa initially left to join Hull KR, but they then changed their minds deciding not to continue with the original contract offer, so he returned to continue playing for the Eagles. Three players left the team, Danny Mills, Nick Turnbull and Scott Watson. Johnny Woodcock was undecided about whether he wanted to continue playing, due to his continuing injury problems, so did not re-sign. To strengthen the squad Dominic Brambani (Dewsbury), Scott Turner (Dewsbury), Michael Knowles (Barrow) and Aaron Smith (unattached) Duane Straugheir (York), Nev Morrison (Hull FC), Liam Higgins (Wakefield) were all recruited. Both Brambani and Higgins were returning to the club.

During the season the club brought in both James Davey (on loan from Wakefield Trinity in the second half of season) and Jack Latus (on loan from Hull).

Whilst Mick Cook left the coaching staff, they were strengthened by the return of former players Dave Larder and Jon Bruce, with Bruce working with the reserve and academy sides. The staff also worked with centre Menzie Yere to change his tackle technique as he had become a marked man with referees during the 2012 season. He had been given two suspensions at crucial times of the season, whilst in the previous season he had only been sent off once and that had been deemed sufficient by the RFL Disciplinary Committee.


To ensure that the squad were up and running for the start of both the Cup and League competitions, two pre-season friendlies had been organised against Wakefield and Doncaster.

The first pre-season friendly was in early January against the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. The Wildcats fielded what was virtually a reserve squad, whilst the Eagles ranks had been depleted, as several of their key players were unable to play due to suspensions and injuries. Neverthless the Sheffield side was the usual well-organised unit. Up until the last ten minutes of the first half they had been ahead 12-6, courtesy of a Dominic Brambani try off a Simon Brown banana kick, as well as another from Sam Scott. But in those minutes Wakefield scored twice to snatch the lead 16-12 at the interval. That lead was extended 13 minutes into the second, but Alex Szostack subsequently managed to score from dummy half to reduce the deficit to 20-18. Converted tries were exchanged, the visitor’s one coming from Lewis Straughn who shot in off Brown’s lofted pass with eight minutes to the final hooter. However Trinity were the last to score, two tries in four minutes, to conclude the tie 38-24.

The second friendly was away against Doncaster on January 23rd. At stake was the Autism Plus South Yorkshire Cup. The Eagles made a good start with Menzie Yere’s perfectly timed pass seeing Scott Turner touch down in the corner unopposed after only 6 minutes. Ten minutes later Doncaster were ahead, 6-4. Their lead was short lived however as a Simon Brown dart from dummy half paved the way for Yere to shrug off a Doncaster defender to cross. On the half hour the hosts went ahead again and by half time they had extended their advantage to 16-10.

Six minutes after the restart, the sides were level through a Dominic Brambani interception. Doncaster restored their lead eleven minutes later, 22-16. With 15 minutes left, Sam Waterson secured parity following a rampaging run to the Doncaster line. Then on 70 minutes, a Pat Smith well-timed pass enabled Michael Knowles to force his way over. Four minutes later, Brambani intercepted yet another wayward pass from Doncaster to put the game to bed. Yet the Eagles were not finished as a fumble by the hosts, was picked up by Leigh Sanders, his late try giving the match, the Cup and the bragging rights to Sheffield, 40-22.

The Season Ahead

Sheffield were hit just before the start of the new seaon by the news that Alex Rowe would not be available for the Northern Rail Cup and the majority of the Championship season as his broken arm, sustained in the previous season, had not healed properly. Looking forward to 2012, Coach Mark Aston commented that:

We’ve got a real good group of people who want to improve here. All the new signings have fitted in really well and brought a real good attitude with them. I have a group of players here now that are easy to coach, and the way they go about their business is very pleasing. We didn’t want to change too much, but felt that with a few quality players here we could really develop over the next couple of years
Mark Aston League Express 15 Jan

The club’s focus for 2012 was clearly to continue to progress individually and collectively, getting as far as they could in the Cup competitions and securing yet another visit to the Grand Final and hopefully go one step further.

Northern Rail Cup

In the Group Stage, Sheffield had been drawn to play Workington and Doncaster away and Leigh and York at home. Mark Aston was to use those four games to help determine his best side for the subsequent League campaign.

Opening their Northern Rail Cup campaign at Workington Town in the middle of February, the Eagles were involved in a tough physical literal game of two halves that was littered by errors from both sides. Workington did not let a lacklustre Sheffield into their game in the first half and dominated posession, but strong defence from the visitors kept the score down. For the first 25 minutes it was all Town, who rattled up 12 unanswered points through two tries. Sheffield started gradually to get a hand on the game and on 29 minutes, from a scrum near the Town line, Sam Scott dived over to secure the Eagles only points of the half. Despite the continuous pressure from the visitors, it was Workington that scored the final points of the half with a penalty on the stroke of half time, to lead 14-6.

On the resumption it was all Sheffield. Misi Taulapapa scored first on 47 minutes following up a QLT chip kick, reducing the lead to 4 points. Then, on the hour mark, Andrew Henderson squeezed over from dummy half to finally put them into the lead 16-14. Two tries in the last 6 minutes from Nev Morrison and Alex Szostack sealed the victory 28-14 and the three match points.

A week later, the Eagles were at Don Valley for their first home match of the Cup against Leigh Centurions. It was yet another game of two halves. Leigh dominated the first half with the Sheffield side not managing even to force their way into the visitors 10 metre zone. By half-time they were behind 18-0, and went further behind on 53 minutes as Leigh scored an unconverted try. Then it all started to change as Andrew Henderson and Dominc Brambani dragged the Eagles into the game as Leigh tired. Alex Szostack’s determination took him over from 15 metres on the hour for Sheffield’s first points, with Simon Brown adding the conversion. Two minutes later Joe Hirst stormed in under the posts and Brown added the extras. With 7 minutes left on the clock, Peter Green’s quick pass sent Sam Scott racing through the gap for yet another try, Brown cutting the lead to 4 points. Two minute to go, Vinny Finigan took a pass from Michael Knowles and scored in the corner to level the scores. In the next attack, the hosts worked their way towards the Leigh line and with seconds left Brambani launched a drop goal that won the game 23-22. Despite the victory, Mark Aston was not happy about the performance.

Did we deserve it – no. We were poor, in the first half. We were disrespectful to ourselves. There were a few choice words at half time. Thankfully we have a player who can kick a ball and win you a game”.
Mark Aston The Star 20 Feb

The end of February brought the South Yorkshire derby at Doncaster. Sheffield dominated the game from the kick off but took a few minutes to finally register points, due to a number of near misses. Firstly Menzie Yere spilled the ball whilst attempting to score and then Liam Higgins bulldozed to the whitewash but failed to ground under pressure. However on 8 minutes good hands along the line enabled Nev Morrison to touchdown with a minimum of fuss. It took until 20 minutes had elapsed for the next score. Dominic Brambani waltzed his way through the home defence, offloaded to Joe Hirst who had the simple task of touching down. A couple of minutes later, following quick interplay between Mitch Stringer and Jack Howieson, Brambani was able to send Hirst for his second try. The Eagles were running riot at this stage. Simon Brown popped a pass to Alex Szostack who ran through the Doncaster defence unchallenged, before Brambani’s kick on the last had a wicked bounce that deceived the Dons the ball falling kindly for Morrison who gave Misi Taulapapa the opportunity to add another try on the half hour.

A Yere barnstorming break led to Vinny Finigan being held on the line before, in the next move, QLT touched down from close range. Stringer added to the hosts woes when he took advantage of smart work between Brown and Brambani to cross under the posts to give the Eagles a 40-0 advantage at the break. It went from bad to worse for Doncaster on the restart as Brambani struck twice in ten minutes. First he took advantage of a bouncing ball, and then he was on hand to take a pass to bring up the 50 points in the 53rd minute. Then slick interplay between Andrew Henderson and Sam Scott saw QLT score the visitors 10th try with 25 minutes left. In those remaining minutes, Doncaster managed to score two consolation tries, but the game had been well over as a competition before half time. The 56-12 victory placed the Eagles on top of Pool 2 and into the next stages of the competition, with one match in hand.

That match was in early March, a home tie against York City Knights who, like the Eagles had won all their games in the Cup. The Knights shared possession with Sheffield in the first 40 minutes. Nev Morrison was the first to score on 14 minutes, following a sweeping passing movement that led to Misi Tualapapa providing him with the ball. Simon Brown secured the first of his conversions. The next to score was Dominic Brambani. A break by QLT was continued by Vinny Finigan, who cut inside to pass to Brambani to complete the move. York pulled a try back before the interval, which was to be their only score of the game , the Eagles ending the half 12-4 ahead.

Sheffield penned the Knights in their own 20 metre area after the restart, with Menzie Yere getting more of the ball to batter the York line. He also scored the first points of the half, with a power run down the line after seven minutes. Ten minutes later Duane Straugheir ran onto Brambani’s pass, scoring his first Eagles try. With seven minutes left on the clock it was again the scrum half’s pass to Tualapapa that brought up the final score of the game. The Eagles were undefeated in the Pool stage of the competition, winning 36-4 and progressing to the Knock out stage.

It’s the first time we have won four on the bounce in the Northern Rail Cup so that’s a positive. Now we have to focus on the League.
Mark Aston League Express 5 Mar

The Quarter Finals of Northern Rail Cup took place on June 15. Sheffield played hosts to Hunslet Hawks. Four penalties in the first five minutes saw the Eagles encamped on the Hawks line before QLT was sent in for the first of his tries. They edged further ahead when Dane McDonald took a long pass and went through the Hunslet line on 22 minutes. Nev Morrison followed that by going in from the corner from a pass by McDonald. QLT secured the game with two tries in three minutes. Simon Brown and Michael Knowles sent him weaving in and that was then followed by a 30 metre race to the line to complete his hat-trick. Sheffield led 24-0 at half time.

Although Hunslet came more into the game in the second period, they were not rewarded with any points. Two minutes after the restart Menzie Yere dived to collect a chip kick in mid air from Brown to crash down over the line, with the kicker adding the extras with his third conversion out of six attempts. Hunslet came back with their best spell of the game, but on 66 minutes Andrew Henderson scored from dummy half, followed by QLT’s fourth three minutes later, after a break by Knowles and Dominic Brambani. In the closing minutes, Alex Szostack wrapped the scoring up, diving on a loose ball. Brambani added all three conversions to ensure an Eagles victory 48-0.

I’m delighted and to nil a team for 80 minutes is something we haven’t done this season. It’s good the way the lads did what they had to do. It wasn’t a vintage performance, but we still racked up 48 points and let no one in.
Mark Aston League Express 18 Jun

In the Semi Final Sheffield had a home tie against Halifax on July 7th. It was a close fought game. On 10 minutes a chip kick from Simon Brown bounced off a Halifax players into the hands of Michael Knowles who went over for the opening try. Brown added the goal. Five minutes later, a Halifax handling error gifted the ball to Sheffield and, after Mitch Stringer was held on the line, Andrew Henderson went over from dummy half to give the hosts a 12-0 advantage. Sam Scott came close soon after and then Menzie Yere crossed over the line but was deemed to have knocked on. On 25 minutes a high kick into the in goal area had Scott Turner outjumping his Halifax opponent, to take the lead further to 18-0. Three minutes later Halifax were finally on the scoreboard with an unconverted try, but the half ended with Yere being held on the line. Sheffield, at the interval were 18-4 ahead, and that lead could have been even greater if the visitor’s defence had not have stood firm as it had.

After the break it was Halifax that dominated possession, scoring their next try nine minutes after the interval, reducing the Eagles’ lead to 8 points. Nine minutes later it was down to 2 points, with a subsequent Halifax penalty tying the scores. With 14 minutes left on the clock, they took the lead 24-18. In the last ten minutes Sheffield stormed the Halifax line with Duane Straugheir being held up but Knowles went one better to score. Yet Brown’s conversion from the touch line sailed wide and the Eagles were out of the Cup, 24-22. Mark Aston was unhappy with some of the decisions of the officials, disputing that the disallowed Yere try was a knock on. Halifax went onto win the Cup, beating Featherstone Rovers 21-12 in the final.

Challenge Cup

In the Third round of the Challenge Cup, Sheffield were drawn once again against Mark Aston’s former club Oulton Raiders. Played at Wakefield Trinity’s ground, the Eagles rested eight players. QLT scored for Sheffield minutes after the kick off, scampering through the amateurs defensive line. Oulton levelled the scores on 14 minutes, but the Eagles made them pay in the last twenty minutes as QLT, backing up well, completed his hat trick before adding a fourth on 35 minutes with a 60 metre break. The other Sheffield score came two minutes later as Dane McDonald added his first since returning from a long injury break, putting the visitors 26-4 ahead at half time.

Tries from Nev Morrison and another from McDonald saw Sheffield ahead by 30 points on 47 minutes, before Oulton dominated possession for the next 20 minutes , testing the visitors defence, but the only reward they got for their efforts was a solitary try. The pressure didn’t last and in the last ten minutes the Eagles scored tries through Ryan Hepworth, Sam Scott, Pat Smith and Duane Straugheir, with Michael Knowles converting all four goals. Simon Brown’s tally was only three from seven. The margin of victory 58-8 did not please Mark Aston as he believed his team had played well below the standards he expected.

In the Fourth round of the Challenge Cup the Eagles were drawn away at York City Knights. Sheffield dominated the game from the kick off. Andrew Henderson had a try disallowed, before Dominic Brambani cut through to score and convert after 13 minutes of play. York where then held up on the line, before Nev Morrison touched down on 24 minutes. Four minutes later Andrew Henderson burrowed through the defence from acting half to take the score to 18-0, and that’s how it stayed to the break.

After the interval, as the visitors piled on the pressure, with Micheal Knowles making a 50- metre break and Peter Green being held on the line, York knew that the heat was about to be turned on. Misi Tualapapa passed the ball out of the back of his hand to Morrison who ran in for his second try. Minutes later Henderson and Brambani combined for the half back to produce a high bomb into the York in-goal area with Menzie Yere swooping on to score. Another high bomb on the next attack, produced the same result, a try for Scott Turner. With the game in the bag, Brambani made a slip, with his pass being intercepted and resulting in a York try. Normal service was soon resumed as Alex Szostack powered onto a Henderson pass for a deserved score, which set the scene for QLT to score two tries against a tiring defence. York managed to get another consolation try before the final whistle, but it was the Eagles that progressed to the next round, 50-12.

The Eagles Fifth round appearance was away to Catalan Dragons at the end of April. Without QLT and Dane McDonald, who were both injured, the visitors were never in the game. In front of 7,000 spectators, they were beaten 68-6 by the 4th placed Super League side. Despite good performances from Andrew Henderson, Michael Knowles and Menzie Yere, Sheffield gave away too many penalties, and in the second half the team visibly tired after having to constantly defend. Their only consolation came midway through the second half when Vinny Finigan scored the visitors only try of the game which Simon Brown converted.

Championship Season

The 2012 Season was the start of an overhaul of the Championship and Division One league composition and structures. Widnes had been promoted to Super League to replace Celtic Crusaders, whose financial difficulties had meant that they would restart in Division One. As a result the Championship had been reduced to 10 teams for 2012. With Keighley and Swinton being promoted replacing the relegated Toulouse who had pulled out of playing in the lower division.

There was to be no relegation in 2012, with four clubs being promoted from Division One at the end of the season. This would increase the Championship to 14 clubs for 2013, giving each of the clubs a 26 game programme to decide who would enter the play-offs and who would be relegated.

Having 26 games is great. I guess there will be a lot of travelling but as long as it adds to the competition I’m for it. We’ve got a competitive league at the moment and hopefully we’ll build upon it.
Mark Aston Star 28 Sep 11


Sheffield started their League campaign at home to Swinton Lions on March 11th. The Eagles had boosted the attendance at the game to 1,815 with a carnival day prior to kick off. Sheffield didn’t waste time and in the second minute Menzie Yere found a gap in the Swinton line and raced 30 metres brefore passing the ball to Alex Szostack to open the scoring. Five minutes later a sweeping move resulted in Simon Brown’s pass to Yere, who finished the move with another try. Misi Taulapapa opened the way for Dominic Brambani to score behind the posts on 20 minutes, to give the hosts an 18-0 lead. Swinton scored five minutes later, to reduce the advantage to 12 points, before Ryan Hepworth latched onto a Brambani pass to extend the lead to 24-6 , with eight minutes left of the half.

After the interval, Swinton reduced the lead to eight points with two tries in the first ten minutes. But Mark Aston sent his front three back on from the bench and that stabilised the Sheffield defence, and led to a three try burst that settled the tie. First Vinny Finigan took a high pass to force himself over at the flag. Then QLT sent in Nev Morrison at the other side, before he took another pass from Brambani, sending in Duane Straugheir for the third. Brown missed the last two conversions, but the Eagles were now 38-16 in front with 23 minutes remaining. But the scoring did not end there. Next it was Joe Hirst’s turn to score. On 65 minutes he ran onto a Brambani pass and five minutes later did all the hard work himself barging over, with Brown’s conversion bringing up 50 points. With eight minutes left, QLT produced a 60 metre break to add to the visitors’ misery, Brown adding the extras. Swinton battled on and secured a consolation try with two minutes left, but the game had already been well over, as the Eagles secured their first Championship win of the season, 56-22.

Their next game was away at Hunslet Hawks. The Eagles dominated the first half hour running in six tries. The first was on three minutes when Dominic Brambani combined with QLT to send in Nev Morrison, with Simon Brown adding the goal. Ten minutes later, Morrison scored again with Brown slotting the extras. Within minutes Vinny Finigan cut loose before sending in QLT to score, followed by Liam Higgins in the next attack. Menzie Yere continued the scoring and then it was Andrew Henderson who brought up the 36-0 lead. At that stage Hunslet had been reduced to 12 players, due to a sin-binning for dissent. Hunslet managed to pull one try back before the interval to go in 36-4 behind.

They scored again two minutes after the restart and when Higgins was sinbinned for holding down, they scored a further two tries reducing the lead to 36-22 with 14 minutes left. Any thoughts of a late comeback were quashed as Henderson powered over to score with four minutes left. Brown missed the conversion, but the Eagles had won the game 40-22 and were top of the Championship after only two games, on points difference. However Mark Aston, although happy about the first half performance, was highly critical of how his team had played once they had developed a commanding lead.

The next game was at Bramall Lane against Halifax at the end of March. It brought an end to the seven match winning run that the Eagles had produced since the start of the NRC. Sheffield started on the offensive blitzing the Halifax try line, but to no effect. It was Halifax who scored first with 14 minutes gone and by half time they had produced three more tries to the hosts one to lead 20-6. Sheffield’s only try was scored by Dominic Brambani who squeezed over on 37 minutes.

The Eagles were the first to score after the break, as Liam Higgins went in under the posts. But an intercepted pass restored the visitors lead, before Dane McDonald forced his way over on 63 minutes, to bring the gap down to 26-18. It seemed the next score would be crucial and Sheffield looked the most likely to score. A yellow card for Brambani, for a late challenge, settled the tie, Halifax taking advantage of the extra man to win the game 50-18. Mark Aston was unhappy with the sin-binning at such a crucial time, particularly the way his team had capitulated after it. With the defeat the Eagles dropped to 5th in the Championship.


The next tie was in April. Those attending this tough away game at Featherstone Rovers witnessed a hundred points being scored over the 80 minutes of the game. The Eagles started the scoring through a move which involved both Andrew Henderson and the increasingly influential Dominic Brambani. It was scored by Misi Taulapapa on three minutes. Simon Brown goaled the extras. Eight minutes later a Brambani crossfield kick was fumbled by the Featherstone defence and Scott Turner touched down wide out. The difficult conversion kick was dispatched by Brown to increase the Sheffield lead to 12 points. Taulapapa’s second came on 15 minutes through a pass from QLT and the lead was upto 18. The next two scores were Featherstone’s, reducing the Eagles lead to 18-10, but a Featherstone fumble on the half hour was punished by Brambani and Michael Knowles who sent in Nev Morrison over wide on the right, with Brown’s conversion kick was on the nail. Another try from the Rovers was negated by another error which led to Menzie Yere picking up the ball and running 60 metres to score an unconverted try on 36 minutes. At the interval the Eagles were surprisingly 26-16 ahead.

Featherstone continued their error strewn game into the second half. One minute after the kick off, they dropped the ball and Alex Szostack ran 60 metres to increase the visitors lead to 16 points. That soon became 22 on 47 minutes as Taulapapa scored his hat trick, created by a McDonald interception, Brambani knocking over the two. A further two minutes elapsed and QLT’s try and conversion had the Eagles 28 points ahead. This finally got Featherstone to react. In the next nine minutes they scored four tries to bring themselves within striking distance of the visitors, 40-44. But a McDonald ball steal led to Brambani getting the ball to Joe Hirst who scored between the posts. There was no Featherstone response, as next on the scoreboard was QLT with an unconverted try, followed by another Featherstone blunder when their pass was intercepted by McDonald, his try being converted by Brambani. A surprise victory 60-40 that put the Eagles into second spot, 3 points behind undefeated Halifax.

I have no idea what happened out there. It’s even stranger because we had our backsides kicked last week. I suppose the biggest positive was that we held our nerve when Rovers fought back. I think we were inspired when we saw the big “Destination Super League” signs outside the ground.
Mark Aston League Express 9 Mar

The next League game was at Keighley Cougars. A mistake by the referee and a controversial intervention by a touch judge cost the Eagles the game. The referee lost count of the tackles and had awarded Keighley their first try on the seventh play of the set. Late in the second the referee seemed to have awarded Dominic Brambani a try then reversed the decision for off side on the advice of his linesman.

Sheffield found it difficult to break down Keighley’s stubborn defence as their attacking style of play was severly hampered by constant rain. Keighley scored first with their controversial try and by 18 minutes they were 10-0 ahead. The Cougars indiscipline, however led to the Eagles securing their first try, as Andrew Henderson provided the pass that sent Misi Tualapapa in to score on 26 minutes, but it was not converted. With two minutes to half time, Brambani, QLT and Tualapapa combined to send Nev Morrison to score over the whitewash, with Simon Brown adding the extras. The sides were level at half time, 10-10. Keighley went back in front at the restart to take a 20-10 lead. Sheffield came back strongly and a high cross from Brown was caught by Taulapapa with 13 minutes left of the half, Brown goaled the conversion, to bring the scores to 20-16. Keighley slotted a penalty, which meant that Sheffield had to score twice to win the game. But the controversial ruling out of Brambani’s try ended that hope, with Keighley scoring another single point from a drop goal with seconds left. The Eagles had lost their second game of the season, 23-16, and dropped out of the play-off positions.

After the game Alex Szostak and Dane McDonald were charged with a dangerous throwing offence, the film evidence being supplied by a supporter from their phone rather than the official video of the match. This secured them a two match ban from the RFL Disciplinary Committee. Mark Aston described what had happened as a total mockery of the system, as nothing untoward had appeared on the official match video.

At the end of April the club announced that Aaron Smith had decided to call time on his attempted comeback as he had decided to pursue a different career.

Off the field the Club announced that they had made a profit for the second year running, unlike their competitors, many of whom were in financial difficulties and facing potential administration. The club’s Chairman, Ian Swire commented in the magazine Forty 20 that he struggled to see how some of these clubs could survive, constantly ploughing in money that was not resolving their debt issues, and bringing in players on unaffordable wages.

We have a good strong Board, and we pay our way. Our winning bonus is probably one of the lowest in the Championship, because we work on a model where we give the players a bit more guaranteed money instead. That means that if we win a lot of games then it won’t hit us hard.
Ian Swire Chair Forty20 May


May opened with a home tie against Leigh Centurions. Leigh took an early lead when a high Simon Brown kick was taken by the wind backwards to the visitors’ advantage. This was followed on 10 minutes with an 80 metre dash that increased the Centurions advantage to 12 points. Some adventurous play by Sheffield resulted in Brown’s pass from dummy half sending in Michael Knowles to score, but the conversion went wide With 22 minutes elapsed, smart ruck play by Andrew Henderson and Dominic Brambani created an opportunity for Misi Tualapapa who passsed to Nev Morrision, whose try and conversion narrowed the Leigh lead to 10-12. Two minutes later a Brown 40/20 created the opportunity for the Eagles to take the lead, through Knowles’ second try. But that lead was not held for long as Leigh scored a further two tries before half-time, to take the score to 14-24.

The second half came alive on 46 minutes, with a long pass to Vinny Finigan for him to score. His try and Brown’s conversion reduced the visitors’ lead to 4 points. Eagles pressure continued with Tualapapa taking a Brown chip kick to touchdown. Brown’s kick gave the hosts the lead 26-24 on 53 minutes. However Leigh were back in front four minutes later. A burst of magic from QLT, who weaved his way through five tackles restored the Eagles lead. Brown added the two, to put Sheffield 32-30 ahead with 17 minutes of the game remaining. That lead disappeared five minutes later as a Leigh penalty levelled the scores. Then they went ahead with a further penalty for ball stealing and, despite the Eagles attempts to win the game, the Centurions held out 34-32.

Five days later the Eagles travelled to York City Knights. With both sides having to play on a waterlogged pitch the forwards dominated. With little to choose between the two sides, it was QLT who broke the deadlock on 20 minutes powering through to score, with Simon Brown adding the extras. Six minutes later York had squared the tie, but a penalty on 34 minutes enabled Sheffield to move the ball up the field, when swift hands from Brown to Michael Knowles, enabled QLT to cut majestically through the York defence from 20 metres out to touch down. The Eagles led at the interval 12-6 and as the second half began, pressure from their pack put them in a good position. A Brown reverse chip into space in the middle of the pitch was followed by a Dominic Brambani flykick to the corner, which Vinny Finigan caught on the full to cross over. With the conversion the Eagles led 18-6. However the Knights did not capitulate and had levelled the scores in a three minute spell, with 27 minutes left.

The Sheffield pack then reinforced their domination with Andrew Henderson ball distribution causing the hosts problems. On 67 minutes Sam Scott’s powerful weaving run moved the ball close to the York line. Brambani took the ball on, bumping off tackle after tackle before showing great determination in stretching his arm over to score under the post. Sheffield had retaken the lead, with Brown’s conversion, 24-18.. A 25 metre field goal from Brown with four minutes left ensured that the Eagles secured their third league victory of the season, the only other action of the game being the sin-binning of Taulapapa and a York player for throwing punches.

The club’s next two games were at Bramall Lane. The first was the visit of Dewsbury Rams. With both Dane McDonald and Alex Szostack back after suspensions, Sheffield dominated posession and were rewarded by two tries inside 15 minutes from Menzie Yere. On both occasions he collected the passes at pace on the right edge of the Rams defence driving his way to the line with unstoppable force. Joe Hirst and Misi Tualapapa both converted further chances from close range either side of a try by Nev Morrison which Mark Aston described “as good a try in Rugby League as you would see”. QLT collected the ball from the Rams on his line and under pressure found a gap in the chasing Rams pack and launched a counter attack. Releasing Yere on the leftwing, he then offloaded to Dominic Brambani under pressure, who then passed to Morrison. He raced clear to touchdown unopposed. Leading 30-0 at the interval, the game was already over.

The second half was a scrappy affair. Simon Brown extended Sheffield’s lead in the 54th minute. Dewsbury managed to score an unconverted try, but the Eagles reinforced their dominance when Andrew Henderson found a gap in the Rams defence to score without a defender in sight. Dewsbury managed to score again with a minute left, but the Eagles were victorious, 42-10.

The first 40 minutes were outstanding. To get a 30-0 lead, the game was over at that point. The width and length here at Bramall Lane means that we can really open it up. It creates more space for the likes of Yere, Quentin, Taulapapa and Vinny. In not great conditions, we played some pretty outstanding Rugby League.
Mark Aston League Express 21 May

Batley Bulldogs were the next visitors. It was the Eagles defensive display that won the day. In front of the cameras they scored first on nine minutes, with Menzie Yere bursting onto a Michael Knowles chip kick through a hesitant Batley defence, to give the hosts a four point advantage. Batley had levelled the tie on 17 minutes and were ahead seven minutes later. With seven minutes left in the half, on the back of succesive sets, QLT weaved his magic to level the tie once again. Duane Straugheir was the next to score, courtesy of the video referee three minutes later, giving Sheffield a 16-10 lead at the break.

After the interval, with five minutes gone, QLT backed himself after receiving an offload from Menzie Yere to race 50 metres to the Batley try line and increase the home side’s advantage. Batley were encamped on the Eagles 20 metre area for much of the second half, but handling errors were their downfall. On 64 minutes Dane McDonald’s quick pass saw Yere crash over for his second try. The Bulldogs managed to score a try, which was not much of a consolation for their positional dominance in the half. The 26-16 victory was enough to move the Eagles to third in the table at the end of May.


June opened with another trip to France to play in the Anglo-French Cup. Sheffield’s opponents were French Champions AS Carcassonne. The Eagles played with a virtually second string pack, whilst their French opponents had a number of their stars rested for the game. Sheffield controlled the game through Simon Brown and Dominic Brambani. Tries from Alex Szostack, Scott Turner, QLT and Menzie Yere gave the Eagles a 22-6 lead at the interval. In the second half tries from Dominic Brambani and seconds from Yere and QLT ensured victory 40-12. At the end of the tournament, Featherstone Rovers were awarded a trophy for their victory over Pia who finished second in their league, whilst the Eagles came away with no such trophy for beating the French Champions.

We obviously came here to do a job and we won the game representing, first Sheffield Eagles and then representing our competition. Its important for us to come over here and do the job. And we had the opportunity to bring in some of the kids as we have a crucial game coming up back home.
Dave Larder League Weekly 4 Jun

That game was an away fixture against Leigh Centurions. The Eagles made a slow start and were 12-0 behind after eight minutes. They remained in the ascendancy until Michael Knowles pulled a try back on 19 minutes and then QLT tied the match on 26 minutes, as he glided through the Leigh defence. That’s how it remained at the interval, but the second half was all Leigh, who scored five tries to take the tie 40-12, with the Sheffield players having to do extra training.

The next League game was on the 22nd with a home fixture at Don Valley Stadium against York City Knights. The Eagles were on the scoreboard within two minutes. A Jack Howieson drive enabled Dominic Brambani to weave in under the posts to score and also add the extras. After ten minutes, York pulled a try back, but a 45 metre break through the York defence saw Menzie Yere extend Sheffield’s lead, with Brambani ensuring the two. York scored just before the break, but it was the hosts who went in 12-10 ahead. A minute after the restart Yere scored his second. York managed to hold out until the hour when three tries in six minutes ended their resolve. Brambani sent in Michael Knowles and then Scott Turner followed up a Brambani kick to flick it to Knowles for his second. QLT completed the tryfest picking up a York chip kick and breaking for 80 metres, to give Sheffield an unassailable 34-10 lead. They were then reduced to 12 men on 64 minutes when Mitch Stringer was shown a red card for an alleged headbutt. That setback didn’t stop the Eagles as QLT went in at the corner for his second and in the dying seconds Yere, who had minutes earlier been denied a try for a forward pass, went in for his hat-trick. Brambani capped a domineering performance with six goals from eight attempts. With the 44-10 victory, Sheffield ended the month in fifth spot.


July opened with an away trip over the Pennines to Swinton Lions. The game proved to be a hard workout before the Eagles semi-final cup clash against Halifax. Scott Turner was presented with the first attacking opportunity in the seventh minute but the ball ran dead. However it was the Lions who scored first a minute later to take a 6 points lead. Sheffield levelled on 20 minutes, when QLT set up a try for Michael Knowles. Three minutes later the visitors were ahead, courtesy of Andrew Henderson who slipped the ball to Joe Hirst to score by the posts. Dominic Brambani converted both scores to put the Eagles in he driving seat, 12-6. Hirst failed in his next attempt but on the half hour they increased their lead. when Simon Brown helped Knowles score his second. Brambani’s conversion struck the upright and bounced over. Peter Green went close, but the hosts managed to pull a converted try back, to reduce Sheffield’s advantage to 18-12 at the interval.

Swinton nearly levelled the tie on the restart, but it was the Eagles who were next to score, Brown providing Menzie Yere with the opportunity to score on his 100th appearance. Sheffield were in the ascendancy and it took some desperate Swinton defence to keep them out. Just before the hour, the Lions managed to again score, against the run of play, to reducee the visitors lead to 22-18. Duane Straugheir was the next to cross the whitewash to extend the Eagles lead to 8 points. The momentum then swung back to Swinton who, through constant pressure, scored with eight minutes left, reducing the arrears to 2 points. The next score would be crucial. On 74 minutes Misi Tualapapa broke through a tired Swinton defence to run 40 metres and score by the posts. Swinton tried to pull the tie back, but their efforts were thwarted by a determined Sheffield rearguard, who took the three match points, 32-24. The Eagles moved up to 4th in the League.

Following their Northern Rail Cup defeat, the next fixture was at Batley Bulldogs’ Mount Pleasant ground. This was yet another game of the proverbial two halves. An impressive Batley side had rattled up what looked like a match winning score of 24-6 by the interval, Sheffield’s only points coming from a Vinny Finigan converted try after 22 minutes. The second half had the hosts penned in near their line for most of the half as they were bombarded by the visitors half backs’ kicking, as the Eagles played down the slope. On 57 minutes a long kick to the corner from Simon Brown was caught by Finigan and planted over the line for his second try. Brown was unable to convert, but eight minutes later smart passing by QLT and Dominic Brambani, put Nev Morrison in at the other corner, to close the gap to 24-14.

Strong running from the Eagles pack was also creating problems for the home defence in addition to their own handling mistakes, as well as the penalties they were conceding in a desperate attempt to slow the game down. On 68 minutes, Misi Taulapapa’s half break created a chance for QLT to score a try between the posts, that Brown duly converted, reducing Batley’s advantage to only 4 points. That didn’t last long as Brown’s chipped a clever ball through the defensive line for Scott Turner to put a hand on it amongst a four man tackle. Sheffield now had the lead with seven minutes left in the game. Batley’s attempts to breakout and attack the Sheffield line were easily thwarted and with a minute to go Mitch Stringer twisted and turned to force himself over the Batley line, ensuring that Sheffield had all three points. His converted try completed the turn around, the Eagles victorious 32-24.

The first thing I said to the lads at half time was focus yourselves there’s no problems and if we are in the game in the last five minutes we’ll win. We were and we did.
Mark Aston League Express 16 Jul

Don Valley was the venue for the next Sheffield outing the following Friday. The visitors were Keighley Cougars. Defences were on top and whilst the Eagles scored all their points in the first 23 minutes, there was a further wait of another 49 minutes before the Cougars responded. After the visitors had put the ball dead from their kick off, a couple of penalties later, QLT swept in on a pass from Michael Knowles to open the scoring, with Simon Brown converting. Despite attempts by Keighley to respond, their continuing lack of ball control led to a further two Eagles tries in eight minutes. A high cross-field kick by Brown was collected by Vinny Finigan near the corner to increase the lead on 15 minutes. Then on 23 minutes, QLT picked up a loose ball and raced 80 metres to score. Brown converted the first try, but his second hit the upright. Despite numerous more attempts to score, the Cougars defence held firm. The Eagles went in at the interval, 16-0 ahead.

That’s how it remained,as the stalemate continued, until the 73rd minute when Keighley finally scored to reduce the arrears to 10 points. They tried again but were held up on the line by the stalwart home defence. The 16-6 victory, continued Sheffield’s unbeaten run, as they remained in 3rd place 4 points behind League leaders Featherstone.

The July edition of the Rugby League World made QLT the player of the month, whilst he, Menzie Yere,and Michael Knowles made it into the the Team of the Month, with Andrew Henderson just missing out.

Menzie Yere was also at the forefront of the press as his Kits for Kids was receiving plaudits from far and wide. Yere with the help of the Eagles had asked for any surplus sports gear to be donated by individuals and teams to be sent to his home country Papua New Guinea to help out adults and children to become more involved in sports. There was a massive response and a container of equipment, including 2,750 shirts, 150 pairs of socks and 300 pairs of boots had been shipped out.

We the people of Gemorabu Community are very grateful for providing us all those wonderful clothing, sporting gear and other items. We appreciate and thank you for all your assistance and pray that God be kind, supportive and bless you all.
Taboro R Tau The Star 17 Jul


As the season entered August, the Eagles had four matches remaining to improve on their position in the play-offs. Their first game of the month was a trip to second placed Halifax. The Eagles started the game on the attack, Following a knock on by Halifax, Menzie Yere found his way over the line only to have it chalked off for a double movement. But on 5 minutes it was Yere who provided the pass to Vinny Finigan who went low to open the scoring. The visitors advantage was doubled on 11 minutes as QLT sent in Scott Turner. It became even better for Sheffield as on 15 minutes, after Halifax lost the ball on the first tackle, Andrew Henderson’s pass sent Michael Knowles over with Simon Brown adding his second conversion, extending the lead to 16-0. The hosts soon after hit back with two tries to reduce the lead to 4 points, before Knowles secured his second on the half hour, when Yere went through a big gap before handing the ball on. Brown missed the conversion. They then extended their lead further on the stroke of half time as they were awarded a penalty for a high tackle in front of the posts. Brown duly dispatched he kick to give the Eagles a 22-12 interval lead.

Halifax had the better start on the retstart forcing an Eagles knock on, to reduce the arrears to 6 points. But QLT further extended that lead on 56 minutes, going over in the corner, but again, Brown could not convert. Tempers started to fray and following the fracas, Duane Straugheir and a Halifax player were sin-binned. Fax were awarded a couple of penalties yet failed to capitalise on them. It was not until the final five minutes that Halifax finally got some reward for their pressure , scoring twice in two minutes against a tiring Eagles defence. Despite Brown’s attempts to provide a final twist in the tale, Halifax had sneaked a victory 30-26. The defeat resulted in the Eagles dropping into 4th spot.

The best team lost today. We had three tries cancelled out by the official and I am going to look into it as I thought Menzie’s try was a good one and another one when Knowles knocked the ball backward for Turner. We stuck to our game plan and played some good stuff but I am very frustrated and upset with the outcome.
Mark Aston League Express 6 Aug

Aston was later fined by the Rugby League for verbally abusing the referee over his poor performance.

Hunslet Hawks were the visitors for the next home fixture the following Friday. The visitors were on a 13 game losing run but how they aproached the game did not reflect their lowly position in the league table. The Eagles started well, with Nev Morrison completing a move involving Dane McDonald and QLT to put the Sheffield side into an early 6-0 lead after five minutes. QLT set the ball rolling for the second with a 60 metre run, that was completed by on-loan James Davey going in from dummy half to double the home side’s advantage after 13 minutes had elapsed. It was after that, that Hunslet started to respond with an unconverted try on 17 minutes, followed by three further tries in the next twenty minutes, to give them a half time lead, 20-12.

It was ten minutes into the second half before Sheffield could post a response. Duane Straugheir, followed up a Dominic Brambani kick to score, Simon Brown adding the conversion, reducing Hunslet’s lead to just two points. A quarter of an hour later QLT made a break, with Alex Szostack splitting the line to enable Joe Hirst to get the first of his two crucial match winning tries. Davey was the provider for the second three minutes later. It increased the home side’s lead to 30-20. Despite the efforts of Finigan and Morrison, Hunslet managed to hang on for the bonus point. The victory put Sheffield on 36 points, six points behind league leaders Featherstone who were the next visitors to Don Valley the following Thursday.

Featherstone Rovers established an early lead in what was to become a roller coaster of a tie. By the half hour mark they were 16-0 ahead and it was not until the last few minutes of the half that Sheffield managed to record their first points of the game. Michael Knowles touched down Dane McDonald’s grubber kick and Dominic Brambani’s kick reduced the Rovers lead to 16-6 at the interval. Sheffield turned the game on its head immediately after the restart, with two tries in three minutes.

The ball was frantically kept alive before a kick by Knowles was misjudged by two Rovers players and Scott Turner touched down under the posts on 44 minutes. On the next play Rovers dropped the ball. Alex Szostak took it on before James Davey scored from dummy half to give the Eagles the lead, 18-16. That galvanised the visitors who scored twice more on 54 and 63 minutes to restore their lead to 28-18. But it wasn’t all over as QLT latched onto a passing move involving Brambani and Yere and went in to set a new individual try scoring record in the season for the Eagles of 31. Try 32 came four minutes later as Brambani’s high kick was pushed down to QLT who scored. Brambani’s conversion levelled the scores with seven minutes left on the clock. There was still time for field goal attempts by both sides, but none were successful. The 28 all draw was insufficient to keep Sheffield in 4th spot, as Leigh overtook them on superior points difference with a win in their game.

We can take a lot of confidence out of the game. Featherstone scored five tries and four came from kicks – a couple of which were flukes. But we came back with some great performances, and we showed a lot of character and belief.
Mark Aston League Express 20 Aug
Sheffield got at us in the second half, and we were a bit loose. We were a bit dishonest in some of our defensive efforts. They found us out, and we were hanging on for a draw.
Daryl Powell League Expr 20 Aug

Both the Hunslet and Featherstone games had originally been slotted into be played at Bramall Lane, but because of problems with reseeding the pitch, that had not taken place.


The last regular league game of the season was at Dewsbury Rams in early September. Under caretaker coach, Paul Broadbent, who had replaced former coach Warren Jowitt, Dewsbury gave some of their fringe squad players a run out. The Eagles dominated the opening quarter, notching up three tries out wide, thanks to Dane McDonald, Nev Morrison and Misi Tualapapa, to lead 12-0. It could have been more, but the visitors bombed three chances by opting for the wrong pass at a vital time in the move. The Rams slowly worked their way into the game, scoring in the 38th minute to reduce Sheffield’s lead to 12-6 at the break.

At the beginning of the second half a flurry of tries came in an eleven minute period, and then the game settled down again into a scrappy affair. Menzie Yere got the first of the tries with a break down the left wing going in untouched. Dominic Brambani got his first conversion of the match, but that was soon cancelled out by another Rams try. James Davey then scooted over and stepped around the defence to score from close range after some weak defending and Brambani enhanced the score, his conversion giving the Eagles a 24-10 cushion. With less than ten minutes left in the game, Dewsbury managed to cross the Sheffield line twice, reducing the lead to only four points. They looked as though they were in with a chance to snatch the points, but Brambani had other ideas in mind. His solo try and conversion in the dying seconds of the game ensuring a Sheffield victory, 30-20 and a home fixture in the play-offs against Batley as they leapfrogged over them to secure 4th position in the the final Championship table.

Championship Play Offs

Sheffield’s Elimination Playoff opponents, Batley Bulldogs, were outplayed from the start and the game was all over by the interval, with the Eagles leading 24-2. The crowd of only 722 witnessed a tight game early on with the Bulldogs taking the lead on 14 minutes, with a penalty for obstruction. The Eagles got the first try however, as a Michael Knowles kick bounced back behind Menzie Yere for winger Scott Turner to collect to go behind the posts. York bound Simon Brown added the conversion, giving the hosts a 6-2 lead on 22 minutes. Six minutes later a Batley drop out was fumbled by the visitors and, from the resultant scrum, Misi Taulapapa hugged the line before touching down. Brown added the touchline goal. Just after the half hour, the Eagles killed the game with two tries in two minutes. Yere offloaded to QLT whose pass found Joe Hirst to touch down. On the next attack, a long kick from Brown to the corner was fumbled by the defence and Turner was on hand to score his second. Unable to add the conversion, Brown managed to kick a penalty from the halfway line to increase the hosts lead further.

The Eagles came through a period of Batley pressure after the restart, with the first points of the half coming on 57 minutes, Tualapapa forcing himself in at the right corner. Brown’s kick hit the upright and bounced in. On the hour, the Bulldogs were reduced to 12 men with a player sinbinned for punching. Sheffield took advantage of the extra man, Mitch Stringer offloading in a tackle to Hirst, who scored under the posts. Batley’s discipline had gone as they were giving away penalties like confetti. On 66 minutes they were reduced to 11 men with a player sinbinned for interference. Davey had to be taken off after an off the ball incident in front of the posts. Batley managed, however, to score twice before the end of the game, with Scott Turner getting his hat trick in between and Brown his seventh goal. Mark Aston was well pleased with the 42-12 victory commenting:

It was outstanding. To do what we did to a very good team and to take them to pieces and score 42 points, in a game of massive importance, is a credit to the players.
Mark Aston League Express 10 Sep

In the other Elimination Play Off, Halifax managed to scrape a victory against Keighley Cougars 28-24 to set up an Elimination Semi-Final against the Eagles.

Sheffield met Halifax at the Shay the following Sunday and an out of sorts home side were well beaten by a rampant Eagles. They raced out of the blocks and were 12-0 ahead within the first ten minutes. The first try came from some neat play by QLT that created an opportunity for Duane Straugheir, which he duly took. Then after the Halifax kick off went dead on the full, Sheffield were in prime position. A Mitch Stringer off load to QLT saw the full back scampering over the line between the posts for the second. Five minutes later QLT was in again, the Eagles attack shifting the ball too quickly for the scrambling Fax defence and the visitors were 18 points ahead. Halifax had their chances, but they fluffed them. As the game approached the halfway point, a cross field kick from Simon Brown was collected by Scott Turner for a simple finish. Although Brown failed with the kick, as the hooter sounded the Eagles were awarded a penalty for interference, which he duly slotted to give the visitors a 24-0 lead at the break.

The restart brought no respite for Halifax. Seven minutes into the half, Turner scored his second to extend the lead to 28 points. On 50 minutes, Halifax finally secured some points and retain a glimmer of hope that they could still reverse the deficit. That never happened as normal service was resumed with Michael Knowles pouncing on a Fax error to go in on 57 minutes, before Menzie Yere finished off an Eagles passing move, courtesy of a great pass by QLT, to put the Eagles 34 points to the good. Sheffield were in cruise control when Stringer worked his way over for yet another try, increasing the lead to 40 points. Halifax managed a couple of consolation tries in the latter end of the half in between which Dominic Brambani brought up the 50 points scooting from dummy half, and then Yere got his second with seven minutes left. The resounding 54-12 victory was ample reward for the defeats the club had experienced at the hands of Halifax over the seasons.

We were outstanding today, and we were outstanding last week too. We’ve a capable group here and when they’ve got their heads on, and their attitude is good then that’s what they can do out there.
Mark Aston League Express 17 Sep

In the Qualifying Semi Final, Minor Premiers Featherstone beat Leigh 32-14 to go to their third consecutive Grand Final, Leigh having to go into the Elimination Semi Final to play Sheffield.

That game took place on the following Thursday night at Leigh Centurions LSV Stadium. Leigh conceded possession from the kick off. Sheffield drove the ball up the park into the Leigh 20 before a delicately placed grubber from Dominic Brambani over the Leigh line was pounced on by Michael Knowles which, with a successful Simon Brown conversion gave the Eagles a 6-0 lead in the first minute. The Sheffield pack were dominating possession and on 24 minutes QLT collected a kick on the Eagles line, escaped a clutch of defenders to run 60 metres before Duane Straugheir, who was in support, took the ball in between the posts to take a 12-0 lead. Joe Hirst came on off the bench and after only a few minutes, a head clash resulted in him being sidelined with a broken jaw. Further Leigh pressure on the Eagles line was well defended. Brown was gaining success with his long kicks pinning the Leigh side in their half. From one of these a handling error resulted in a scrum 10 metres out from the Leigh line. Sheffield put together a move that saw QLT send in Misi Tualapapa haring over in the right corner to increase the lead to 18 points. With four minutes of the half left, Leigh managed to get a try, but a ball steal gave a penalty to Sheffield which Brown easily dispatched. The Eagles were ahead 20-4 as the half-time hooter sounded.

The second half was full of incident with the video referee involved on five occasions, as both sides tried to gain the initiative. Sheffield hit first with James Davey slicing through from dummy half to race to the line with a Leigh player preventing him from touching down. But less than a minute later, a pinpoint kick from Brown was collected by Scott Turner, who grounded on 47 minutes to open a 26-4 advantage. However it was from that point that Leigh started to take control of the game. A try on 50 minutes reduced the Eagles advantage to 16 points. Yet it was not until the last ten minutes that Leigh managed to cross the Eagles line again on 72 minutes and 75 minutes to bring the Centurions within touching distance of the visitors, 22-26. Sheffield held their nerve and claimed a try in the last few minutes as Menzie Yere thundered through the middle to score, Brown adding the extras. The Eagles were through to their second consecutive Grand Final, victors by 32-22.

It took a lot out of me tonight. I cannot speak highly enough about this group of people. We were the first side outside the top two to make it to a Grand Final last year and we’ve done it again – the hard way.
Mark Aston League Express 24 Sep

During the game QLT was put on report for a high tackle, but it did not lead to any ban by the RFL Disciplinary Committee.

Featherstone Rovers were nailed on favourites to win the Grand Final that took place at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on 30th September. In wet overcast conditions, the Eagles nearly had a dream start when Sam Scott went over in the opening minutes but was ruled out by the video referee for offside. However on 10 minutes Simon Brown put in a short pass to Menzie Yere, who used his body strength to get to the line, before off loading to Scott Turner who duly went over the line, his try giving the Eagles a 4-0 lead. Rovers were level on 18 minutes and then had a try disallowed for a forward pass. They did however take the lead with a penalty for a high tackle soon after. The lead then moved back to the Eagle, as Turner offloaded to QLT who scored with six minutes left in the half. Brown converted to give Sheffield a narrow 10-8 advantage at the interval.

A Rovers penalty early after the restart, tied the scores again, before Dane McDonald latched onto a Brown grubber, that pierced the Featherstone backline, to touchdown. Brown missed the conversion, restricting the lead to only four points with half an hour left in the game. On 51 minutes the pendulum moved towards Featherstone again with a converted try to give them a two point advantage. But it would swing back minutes later. A high tackle Man of the match went to hardworking Michael Knowles, but any one of the Eagles squad could have been awarded the accolade, as in the end they all made strong contributions to their victory effort . They were in effect all Men of the Match. Turner which was put on report, led to a high deep kick from Dominic Brambani, which was collected by Misi Tualapapa, who did extremely well to score. Brown, this time, added the two points and although he later missed a penalty on 74 minutes, the scoring was over. Despite a tense end to the game the Eagles held onto to win the Grand Final for the first time, 20-16, avenging the defeat one year before.

Man of the match went to hardworking Michael Knowles, but any one of the Eagles squad could have been awarded the accolade, as in the end they all made strong contributions to their victory effort . They were in effect all Men of the Match.

We felt we didn’t get the recognition in the (Championship) nominees. And we only had one player in the Dream Team. That motivated the players. But there is a will and a want to be as good as we can be. So, I thought the players were first class.
Mark Aston League Express 1 Oct
We don’t get much credit. But come next year we are going to be the team to beat. And to get one over on Featherstone is good for a local lad.
Michael Knowles Leag Exp 1 Oct
I thought Sheffield were excellent and played the conditions better than us. They dictated field position in the second half, and we couldn’t get a foothold in the game.
Daryl Powell Leag Expr 1 Oct
The RFL issued a press release congratulating minor premiers Featherstone but nothing yet for Champions Sheffield Eagles. It’s disappointing. It meant the world to us to win. Thirteen years after that ill-fated merger we’ve proved an awful lot of people wrong. It’s been a battle against the odds. We had a few issues with the RFL in the lead up but used it as motivation. The players and coach were ignored at the awards and that really gave us an edge.
Ian Swire Forty20 Oct 2012
This is a major achievement for an area which is not a Rugby League heartland, and it is extremely disappointing the club has received no recognition of the achievement from the Rugby Football League. What do we have to do to get recognition?
John Whaling The Star 11 Oct

The club’s victory gave them an option to apply for Super League in 2014. However although the Eagles ticked all the boxes for a successful application in terms of results and ongoing community development, the big imponderable continued to be the number of people who came through the turnstiles.

Average attendances overall had fallen again by 11.3% from 1,118 to 1,003 -compared to a Championship average decline of 16.5% from 1590 to 1185 -. This in part could be attributed to the fact that the club had increased the number of home games played at Don Valley, as well as the promotion of Widnes to Super League, as they usually, unlike many other Championship clubs brought a large number of supporters to games when they played away from home. In addition the economy was going through a double dip recession.

It never gets any easier and you have to adapt at times. There is no secret to it other than hard work. We know we have to get better crowds in, but we are working on that. And from our perspective we don’t want to go in (to Super League) and go bust. We don’t know the full economics of it yet and how much it would cost to put a competitive team on the field but if we continue to strengthen our base then whether it be in this round of licenses or the next, we will be ready. We don’t want to be doing anything half-heartedly.
Ian Swire Chair Forty20 May 2012

Tim Bergin had taken over the club’s marketing activities trying to address the lack of engagement in attracting more spectators. Media coverage was expanded and the Eagles presence on social media networks were enhanced. A series of events and initiatives were developed to try to attract more supporters – the Free Kids Season Ticket campaign, the Don Valley Stadium Carnival Day held before the Swinton game, a Varsity Cup game involving Local University teams and encouraging existing supporters to link in with former supporters to attract them back to watching the side.

The Club’s involvement in schools continued and grew as part of the extensive community and development programmes, mainly funded through the support of the Club’s main sponsors. The Club again ran its Reserve team, under 18’s, under 16’s and under 15’s, who had varying levels of success.

Overall the year was yet another of progress and success. In addition to winning the Grand Final, Sheffield had four players in the Championship top ten try scorers for the regular Championship season. QLT was second with 21 tries, although if the three additional tries he had scored in the playoffs had been included he would have been top with 24. Menzie Yere was third with 15 (18 including playoffs); Misi Tualapapa 6th equal with 13 (17 including playoffs); and Michael Knowles 7th with 12 (14 including Playoffs). Simon Brown was 4th in terms of total goals and points scored.

Sheffield always had the talent to succeed and timed their end of season run to perfection. The final success gave coach Mark Aston another major high to go alongside his Lance Todd Challenge Cup winning success of 1998.
Rugby League Yearbook 2012-2013


Player of the Year: Quentin Laulau Togagae

Supporter’s Player of the Year : Quentin Laulau Togagae

Players Player of the Year: Quentin Laulau Togagae

There were also inductees to the Sheffield Eagles Hall of Fame. – former players Keith Senior, Waisale Sovatabua, Gavin Brown and Mick Cook.

Although QLT made it into the Championship Dream Time but failed to secure the Championship Player of the Year, he was later successful in becoming Rugby League World’s Player of the Year.

Mark Aston was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Sport by Sheffield Hallam University as well as the Rugby League Writers Merit award for services to the sport.

International Honours

Ireland Pat Smith Tim Bergin

Scotland Andrew Henderson, Mitchell Stringer Jack Howieson Alex Szostack

England Students Leigh Sanders and Sam Williamson were in squad to play in Australia

Playing Squad

2012 Playing Squad


2012 Results


2012 Table

Player Statistics

2012 Players

Further Information

For more detail about results and players visit the Rugby League Record Keepers Club website HERE.


Ian Swain