Whitehaven were denied a third victory of the Championship season as a drop goal after the hooter saw Sheffield Eagles claim a share of the spoils in a dramatic 25-25 finale.

After heavy back-to-back defeats against Toulouse Olympique and Widnes Vikings, Gary Charlton’s side put in a huge shift to come within seconds of success.

They led by 13 points at one stage, with Lachlan Walmsley, Gregg McNally and Jake Bradley adding to Connor Holliday’s early score, but back-to-back tries brought Sheffield back in the contest and Anthony Thackeray slotted over to level at the last.

For so long it looked like it would be Haven’s day. It couldn’t have started any better, scoring within a minute with Izaac Farrell dropping the kick-off and Holliday strolling through a sizeable gap for the opening try off Nikau Williams’ pass.

Walmsley added the conversion and Whitehaven were playing with a real determination, but they were caught out by two quick tries.

Hooker Greg Burns got the first, burrowing under the posts after Ellis Gillam had stopped Thackeray. Michael Knowles then put Sheffield ahead, barging over following Aaron Brown’s bright run, and Farrell’s conversion made it 12-6 to the hosts.

Brown had a try of his own ruled out for a forward Burns pass, and Whitehaven made the most of the reprieve with an excellent end to the opening period which had McNally at its heart.

The full-back’s looping pass sent Walmsley into the corner to level after a great team defensive effort put them on the attack, and he then finished off a rampaging break down the middle by the returning Dion Aiye and Karl Dixon a couple of minutes later.

McNally then added a one-pointer to two more accurate Walmsley kicks, giving Haven a two-score interval lead at 19-12.

They thought they had made a start to the second half to rival the first when Holliday drove over, but referee Cameron Worsley controversially ruled that he had been held up.

Oscar Thomas, playing against his former side, was also prevented from grounding while Williams and McNally combined to somehow stop Josh Guzdek at the other end, and that effort was rewarded when Walmsley claimed a high kick and Jason Mossop helped the ball onto Bradley for a valuable three-score advantage.

But ill-discipline and some contentious calls meant Whitehaven faced an onslaught in the closing stages. Another remarkable defensive effort stopped Farrell but he squirmed through shortly after to start the comeback, and the deficit was reduced to one point when Thackeray dummied his way clean through the visiting defence.

Jessie Joe Parker was unable to finish the job for Haven, having a try ruled out when his foot went into touch, and that meant the defence had to hold on to the very end with McNally incredibly denying Thackeray.

But the victory would be taken from them cruelly at the very last, a controversial ball steal ruling giving Sheffield a final chance and Thackeray slotting the drop goal after the hooter sounded.


SHEFFIELD: Guzdek; Worrincy, Bower, Glover, Millar; I Farrell, Thackeray; Wheeldon, G Burns, James; Knowles, Davies, Brown.

Interchanges: Davey, Broadbent, Dickinson, B Tyson-Wilson.

Tries: Burns (9), Knowles (12), Farrell (67), Thackeray (71)

Goals: Farrell 4/4

Field goals: Thackeray (80)

WHITEHAVEN: McNally; Parker, Naylor, Mossop, Walmsley; Dixon, Williams; Walker, Newton, Cooper; Gillam, Holliday, Wilkinson.

Interchanges: Aiye, Bradley, Dawson, Thomas.

Tries: Holliday (1), Walmsley (32), McNally (34), Bradley (57)

Goals: Walmsley 4/4

Field goals: McNally (39).