How a Scottish side threatened to steal the Challenge Cup headlines

Sebastian Sternik

All eyes were fixed on Red Star Belgrade as the first round of the Challenge Cup got underway however, it was almost the Edinburgh Eagles who stole the headlines.

In sport, the final score doesn’t often tell the full story. That is certainly the case when it comes to last Saturday’s clash between the Normanton Knights and the Edinburgh Eagles in the first round of the Challenge Cup.

In the end, Normanton ran out comfortable 50-16 winners. However, it all looked to be going against the West Yorkshire side when they went into the half time break with the score 16-16.

Knight’s head coach, Paul Seal, said: “In the first half we just dropped too many balls. We completed three sets from 12 which was pretty disappointing. At half time we made a few changes to our game plan and it payed dividends. I was pleased with the end result but not too much with the first half.”

Edinburgh’s playing head coach, Craig Robertson, felt his side underestimated Normanton saying: “It was a good reality check. A lot of the boys thought it was going to be a lot easier. However, we take a lot of positives. We gave them a good fright. Sixteen all at half time and it could have been a lot more. No excuses though. They came out full guns blazing in the second half and we just sat back.”

Normanton took an early lead with a try on the sixth minute mark. However, a five minute brace from the visitors saw the Eagles edge 12-4 in front.

The Knights hit back moments later as James Senkiw scored his second of the game to make it 10-12. But the try on seemed to spur the Eagles on who quickly found themselves back on the scoresheet thanks to Robertson himself.

Moments before the half time whistle, a flying finish from Lee Hammond was converted by Connor Taylor making the score 16-16.

The Knights turned on the style in the second half and scored seven unanswered tries to break the deadlock and ensure their place in the second round of the Challenge Cup.

Seal hopes to continue the club’s good recent run in the competition.

He said: “They were really enthusiastic in the first half. That can certainly go a long way. But we’re pleased to be through to the second round. We’ve got good recent history in this competition and we hope to continue that run this year.”

Robertson added: “We just couldn’t get the ball in the second half and that’s what really killed us. We were chasing the game. We’ll learn from it and we’ll go again.

“We’ll go back up. This was a good reality check. We’ll think over it and see where we can improve and then we go again next year. Full credit to them. You can see why they got relegated last year but you can also see why they are in a good league.”