Eagles beaten by Barrow on opening day
Sheffield Eagles made the first of three long trips to Cumbria on Sunday but came back to South Yorkshire empty-handed following a 22-10 defeat against Barrow Raiders.
Mark Aston handed out nine debuts in the Eagles’ first runout of 2022, which included all four outside backs.
The visitors were 18-10 down at the break and there were only four points scored in the second, blighted by terrible conditions. Two penalty goals for the Raiders sealed the victory for the Cumbrians.
Sheffield couldn’t have asked for a better start as they opened the scoring after five minutes thanks to Ben Jones-Bishop, who was the beneficiary of smart work down the right flank. Izaac Farrell couldn’t convert.
Barrow bounced back with a try from Ellis Gillam, converted by Ryan Shaw who also tagged on a penalty goal which came five minutes after a Joel Farrell sin-binning.
On the half-hour mark, Anthony Thackeray - in his final season of a distinguished rugby league career - crossed the whitewash with a customary show-and-go. Izaac’s conversion put the Eagles back in front.
Sheffield were hit by a quick-fire double blow as Barrow went into the sheds two scores up. Tee Ritson and Hakim Miloudi notched back-to-back efforts, with Shaw kicking a lone conversion.
Half-time - Barrow Raiders 18-10 Sheffield Eagles
Sheffield started the second half well and came agonisingly close to cutting the deficit but Mikey Wood knocked on over the line.
The Miloudi-Ritson combination was looking lively for the Raiders and the former was almost away down the wing but was stopped in his tracks by an ankle tap from Joel.
A Thackeray high tackle handed Barrow an opportunity to extend their lead from in front of the sticks. Shaw duly obliged.
As the final quarter loomed, Shaw got the kicking tee out once again as the Eagles were penalised for offside. Barrow’s lead stretched to 12 points and it would stay that way until the end of the match.
Despite not getting on the scoresheet in the second period, the Eagles did threaten on multiple occasions and forced consecutive three goal-line dropouts. However, Barrow’s defence remained resolute and that was enough for them to take the spoils.
Full-time - Barrow Raiders 22-10 Sheffield Eagles
By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman