Eagles battle past Raiders
Sheffield Eagles got on the board in the Betfred Championship with a comfortable 16-36 victory over Barrow Raiders.
Doubles for centres Ross Oakes and Kris Welham were the catalyst to triumph for Mark Aston’s men, who bounced back from an opening week defeat to Halifax Panthers.
Two changes were made by Aston as Jesse Sene-Lefao and Anthony Thackeray replaced Blake Broadbent and Jack Hansen respectively.
Welham broke the deadlock on five minutes as he wrestled his way past two Barrow tacklers to touch down. Cory Aston tagged on the extras.
Barrow levelled matters soon after when Ellis Gillam wriggled through the Eagles’ rearguard. Ryan Shaw converted.
Welham’s second was a prime Thackeray attack, the captain taking the ball to the line and the centre running the perfect line. Aston converted.
It was evident the Eagles half-backs were growing in confidence and the duo played their part in Matty Dawson-Jones’ effort - both Aston and Thackeray linking up to send the winger in at the corner. Aston couldn't convert but the Eagles had a ten-point buffer.
With five minutes remaining of the first half, Oakes’ first of the day sent the hardy Eagles following into raptures. A quick play-the-ball put Sheffield on the front foot and when Oakes powered on to a short ball, there was only going to be one outcome. Aston goaled.
With Barrow needing the next score to keep the game alive, their maverick playmaker Jarrod Sammut ducked under a tackler to touch down. Shaw converted.
Half-time - Barrow Raiders 12-22 Sheffield Eagles
Two tries in the first five minutes of the half put Sheffield well and truly into the driving seat.
Oakes completed his brace after collecting a Ben Jones-Bishop grubber before Bayley Liu got on the scoresheet with a superb individual effort from 30 metres out.
Neither conversion attempt was successful but with a three-score advantage, Barrow needed to start chancing their arm.
They were gifted territory from an Eagles error and Shane Toal’s four-pointer cut the deficit. Shaw hit the bar from the touchline.
In the final quarter, the Aston and Thackeray combination worked wonders once more as the former broke the line and was supported by the latter for the Eagles’ final try of the day. Aston converted.
Referee Ben Thaler dished out the cards in the final stages, with Welham and Joel Farrell visiting the sin-bin alongside Barrow’s Ryan Johnston.
Full-time - Barrow Raiders 16-36 Sheffield Eagles
Focus for the Eagles turns to their first home league game of 2023 against Batley Bulldogs at the Olympic Legacy Park on Friday evening.
Buy your tickets here!
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman