Szostak: London experience boosts Sheffield’s NRC bid

Sheffield Eagles utility forward Alex Szostak is hoping to take the experience of losing to London Broncos, and use it boost his team’s bid for Northern Rail Cup glory.

The Eagles take on Leigh Centurions at The Shay in Halifax this Sunday, after their long unbeaten run finally came to an end in their Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat on Friday.

“It was a great experience,” he said.

“All of us knew it was going to be a tough game. We expected to go into it a bit on the back foot, with it being a Super League side. 

“I really enjoyed it. I’ve had the same from the other lads as well. It was the perfect lead up to the Northern Rail Cup final.”

The Scotland international felt that the difference in fitness between full and part-time players was crucial in London booking their place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals. The last 20 minutes in particular was a vital time in the game, when the Eagles felt their energy draining.

“That’s where it does become apparent,” Szostak said.

“The fact that they’re training for 25 hours a week, and we’re only part-time, it gave them that extra energy towards the end.

“The scoreline flattered them a little bit. But if you look at the full-time score and the half-time score, then it shows that difference in fitness.”

Szostak also felt that Sheffield coughed up possession too easily, something which would have hurt them whoever they had been playing.

“The difference for us between the two teams was that we gave them possession,” he said.

“We were giving up ball. Our completion rate needed to be up around 80 per cent, it must have been down at 50 to 60 per cent.

“And if you’ve not got the ball against a Super League side and you’re defending for 80 minutes then it’s going to tell.

“If we’d played like that against a side in our division they would have put the same number of points past us.

“I think we’ve lost it, but they played out of their skins. Jamie Soward is a top player.”

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