Just Like Old Times. Sheffield Eagles 2019 Season Review

Just like old times? Or near enough as Sheffield Eagles enjoyed a strong season in the Betfred Championship.

The play-offs may have eluded them; however, they compensated by clinching the inaugural 1895 Cup at Wembley stadium, their first win at the venue since their enormous upset victory in 1998 against Wigan.

The crowd and tournament may have been vastly different but credit to the Eagles and Head Coach Mark Aston, who become an important figure of earning a Wembley win both on and off the field.

The start of a turn-around perhaps for Sheffield as we look back at their 2019 season.


Best result: Sheffield Eagles 44-16 Toulouse Olympique

Their most impressive performance is arguably their home thumping of eventual runners-up Toulouse Olympique.

It was certainly a Happy Easter for the Eagles as they stunned their full-time counterparts.

Captain Matt James scored a brace of tries on top of Anthony Thackeray’s hat-trick.

Sonny Esslemont and Ryan Millar rounded things off on a memorable night for the hosts.

Though it was not enough to get them a play-off spot, it was a demonstration of what Sheffield are capable of when at their very best.


Worst result: Swinton Lions 48-16 Sheffield Eagles

They started the season euphorically but following their Wembley win, their finish was rather forgettable as judged by their final day drubbing away at Swinton Lions.

Swinton, despite being plagued by off field issues, were impressive to gain such a heavy win, but maybe Sheffield were guilty of the old ‘Cup hangover’ excuse as the effort was just not there.

Matthew Ashton bagged a staggering five tries for the hosts, with further efforts coming from Gavin Bennion, Jack Wells, Jack Hansen and Ben Morris.

Sheffield could only respond with efforts through Aaron Brown, Ben Hellewell and Corey Makelim, though they were well and truly beaten.

Though with not much to play for on the night, a Sheffield win may have been a ‘gamble of long odds’, but to finish the season rather poorly, will hopefully not impact them in any way heading into 2020.


Main man: Anthony Thackeray

Signing a two year deal from Yorkshire rivals Featherstone Rovers was Anthony Thackeray, who enjoyed a tremendous season for the Eagles!

The 33-year-old proved you can still go strong at such an age, scoring up to 18 tries and assisting in plenty kept the Eagles competitive throughout 2019.

Not forgetting his leadership in their 1895 Cup run, Thackeray introduced a new breed of attacking rugby that helped them to their best season since attaining a position in the Super 8s Qualifiers back in 2015.

With another year at least left in the game, no doubt he will want to bow out on a high, giving the Eagles support plenty to be excited for next year!


Predicted 11th – Finished 7th  

They surprised yet did not disappoint as Sheffield eased away from battling relegation and become genuine play-off contenders.

They gave a very good account of themselves throughout the season, producing some strong performances to go toe-to-toe with clubs above them and came ever so close to a top five spot.

They achieved this by producing some exciting rugby, something that has been lacking in recent season as since their 2015 Qualifiers campaign, their attack has steadily worsened until this year.

However, though it was not to be, Mark Aston looks to be getting together a talented squad again, not just for the present but also the future.

They look set to return in 2020 improved, with the possibility of building on their 1895 Cup triumph where hopefully the game in Sheffield will remain afloat in many years to come.