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Russell, Wallace score two tries apiece as Wolfpack defeat Sheffield Eagles


LONDON — Matty Russell and Blake Wallace scored two tries apiece as the Toronto Wolfpack remained on top of the second-tier Betfred Championship with a 40-10 rugby league win over the Sheffield Eagles on Saturday.

Toronto (8-1-0) needed the victory given second-place Toulouse (7-2-0) defeated Featherstone Rovers 8-2 earlier in the day. Sheffield (6-2-0) came into Saturday's game third in the standings.

The Wolfpack, who had 60 per cent of possession Saturday, have won three straight since a 46-16 loss March 9 at Toulouse.

Chase Stanley, Tom Olbison, Andy Ackers and Adam Sidlow also scored tries for Toronto, which led 18-4 at the half. Wallace kicked three conversions and Gareth O'Brien added another.

Oliver Davies and Ryan Millar scored ties for Sheffield. Pat Walker booted a conversion.

"We see the best of every opposition," said Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott. "And while the scoreline starts to go our way towards the back end of that game, Sheffield never went away. Their defence was great. That was a tough old game."

"We got beat by a team that was clinical." said Sheffield coach Mark Aston.

Hakim Miloudi, the French international brought in on loan this week from Hull FC, started on the wing for Toronto.

Stanley opened the scoring in the 10th minute, touching down in the right corner to make Sheffield pay for back-to-back penalties. A handling error on the ensuing kickoff gave the Eagles the ball deep in Toronto territory but they were unable to convert.

Sheffield fullback Josh Guzdek saved a try when he prevented O'Brien, his opposite number, from touching the ball down when he crossed the line. But Toronto scored on the next play with Ricky Leutele's one-handed offload finding Russell.

A Wallace handling error in the kickoff gave the ball back to Sheffield and Davies rumbled through the Toronto defence for a try to cut the lead to 8-4.

Toronto looked set to add to its lead when Jon Wilkin crashed the goal-line but the former England international fumbled in the tackle. The Wolfpack added to their lead with late first-half tries by Olbison, in the 36th minute, and Ackers, in the 40th.

Wallace kept the scoreboard ticking over with a try in the 43rd minute, increasing the lead to 24-4, after a Leutele interception.

Sheffield's Brad Knowles had to be helped off the field in the second half after suffering an apparent leg injury. Stanley's afternoon was also cut short by injury.

Millar cut the lead to 24-10 with a converted try, off a Glover offload, in the corner in the 50th minute. It was the winger's eighth try of the season.

Russell scored his second try in the 62st minute, twisting away from a tackler to touch the ball down in the corner for his 11th of the season.

Tempers flared in the 65th minute when Toronto forward Ashton Sims caught Jamaican international Joel Farrell with a swinging arm in the tackle. Sims, an Australia-born Fiji international, was not penalized on the play.

Wallace scored his second of the day in the 75th minute, with a beautiful dummy and then sidestep to go in for the try under the posts for his eighth of the season. Sidlow added to the damage late, touching down a grubber kick.

Toronto was coming off a bye week. Sheffield was knocked out of the Coral Challenge Cup in a 34-12 loss to Leigh Centurions.

The Wolfpack beat Sheffield twice last season by a combined 112-14 score.

The contest at London's New River Stadium, home of the London Skolars, was designated as a home game for Toronto. The Wolfpack hold a minority stake in the Skolars, who play one level below the Wolfpack in the third-tier League 1.

The Skolars edged Workington Town 34-32 in the first half of Saturday's doubleheader.

With Toronto's city-owned Lamport Stadium under a bubble until good weather comes, Toronto is used to extended chunks of schedule away. Toronto has already held "home" games in Newcastle and Hull this season.

The Wolfpack play their first game in Toronto on April 28, the first of 10 regular-season home games slated for Lamport Stadium.


The Canadian Press