Betfred Championship R19: Sheffield vs Barrow Preview
Sheffield Eagles will be hoping to return to winning ways on Sunday when Barrow Raiders visit the Olympic Legacy Park in round 19 of the Betfred Championship.
Sheffield come into the contest in poor form, having lost four straight matches, last winning in the North East against Newcastle Thunder in early June.
Last Time Out
The Eagles improved in their last performance but suffered a loss to Batley Bulldogs after a slow start punished Mark Aston’s side.
Sheffield conceded three tries within the first 15 minutes and could’ve been further behind if Tom Gilmore converted any of the scores from Dale Morton (2x) or Johnny Campbell.
The Eagles pulled level through two converted scores; first through Vila Halafihi, who notched a cheeky score from dummy half.
Eagles forward Blake Broadbent stepped aside the Bulldogs defence and Josh Guzdek was on-hand to convert in the absence of the injured Izaac Farrell.
Sheffield suffered a sucker-punch seconds before the break when Ben White touched down a deft grubber to put his side 12-18 at the break.
A second-half sin-binning to Joel Farrell further haltered Sheffield’s progress.
Batley went two scores ahead through a Luke Hooley penalty goal.
Anthony Thackeray’s body-on-the-line effort made sure of a nervous finish for the visitors when he was awarded a penalty try on the 64th minute but it was the Bulldogs who went home with the points, professionally seeing out the last 15 minutes.
Sunday’s visitors Barrow come into the contest looking to continue their fine season.
The 2021 League One Champions have adapted well to life in the second tier under the leadership of Paul Crarey and look on course for an end-of-season run in the playoffs.
The Raiders will be looking to inflict a league double over the Eagles after beating Sheffield 22-10 on the first day of the season.
Conditions are expected to be on the other end of the spectrum to the freezing February mud-fest with high temperatures expected across the country.
Barrow enjoyed a big victory over their Cumbrian rivals Whitehaven last time out, winning 40-6.
The Raiders only led by four points at the interval but completed an impressive five-try second-half showing in which they kept their visitors scoreless.
Key Battle - Cory Aston | Jarrod Sammut
This weekend’s key battle selection is between the two side's half-backs Cory Aston and Jarrod Sammut.
The Eagles will be without playmaking duo Izaac Farrell and Anthony Thackeray for this weekend’s contest.
Expected to turn to Tom Holmes and Aston, Sheffield go up against one of the biggest attacking threats in the division at the Olympic Legacy Park.
Sammut, the 35-year-old Malta international, has vast Championship experience with London Broncos and Workington Town and his quality has spearheaded Barrow’s rise with the likes of Tee Ritson and Hakim Miloudi also providing big contributions.
By Lewis Coleman, graphic by Alex Coleman