Sheffield v Batley preview.
Aston targets back-to-back titles
Mark Aston will be aiming to get one over on his old mentor John Kear when his Sheffield Eagles side face Batley Bulldogs in the Kingstone Press Championship Grand Final at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday.
Aston was Kear's on-field general at Sheffield in the 1990s, most notably in 1998 when they masterminded Eagles' famous victory over Wigan in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
"I know Mark really well," Kear said. "I was lucky enough to coach him when he won the Lance Todd Trophy.
"He was a very clever player and he has managed to transfer that smartness from the playing field to his coaching and Sheffield have got to be acknowledged as the stellar team of the Championship this season."
Kear's largely unfancied Bulldogs, who gained back-to-back golden-point wins to reach their first Grand Final, stand in the way of Sheffield's attempt to become the first club to win consecutive finals.
"It's definitely a positive for Batley to have John Kear in charge," Aston said.
"In 1998, when we won the Challenge Cup, he managed to get us all as a squad in a really good place and we won the competition.
"Batley have been outstanding this season and John has definitely played a big part in that. They are a good team, in a good place so Sunday will be a fascinating game. We're just pleased to be in the final.
"We won last year and now we're looking to become the first side to win the final in back-to-back seasons which brings a certain pressure."
Batley are looking to become the first team to win the final after finishing outside the top four in the Championship.
"There's always a first for everything," Kear said. "Last year Sheffield became the first team to win the final from outside the top three and now they're looking to become the first to win back-to-back finals.
"It's these games which represent the culmination of a year's work. You've just got to live in the moment and enjoy the game."