If the Summer Bash weekend had a side who were guaranteed to gather in a crucial two points then most pundits would pick a Sheffield Eagles win in the opening Sunday game when they played Barrow.
Barrow are second bottom in the table after many brave performances and close results which have only yielded three points from their one win and one draw, both in the opening four rounds. Sheffield, on the other hand, are flying high with eight wins from their twelve games and the two points today would llift them into third spot with a game in hand over their rivals.
The only previous 2019 season encounter between these two was a close affair in round two which the Eagles scraped by just two points thanks to a last minute penalty goal.
Eagle James Glover lasted just ninety seconds after going over on his angle in the tackle forcing Mark Aston into early re-organisation. Martin Aspinwall went close on six, the Eagles defence preventing him from grounding the ball as Barrow started the game at a fast pace, taking the game to Sheffield.
On thirteen Barrow did take the lead thanks to Jarrad Stack who leapt to catch a Jamie Dallimore kick to the corner, push to the line, and stretch to ground on the line. Dallimore added the conversion and the underdogs were 6-0 ahead.
Another ankle injury, this time to Matt James, deprived the Eagles of a second player within the opening twenty-one minutes. Trailing and two men down, it wasn’t the best start to their Blackpool trip.
But on twenty-four the Eagles were over for their opener when Joel Farrell took an Anthony Thackeray short pass to go over from five metres. Pat Walker added the conversion to tie up the scores.
Barrow secured a narrow two point half time lead when Dallimore kicked a forty metre penalty goal with two minutes of the half remaining for 8-6 at oranges.
The Eagles hit the front for the first time on forty-seven as Farrell again crashed the line for a short range try. When Walker added the goal it was 12-8 and the Eagles were finally where they wanted to be.
Knowles went over on fifty-three but was held up but two tackles Ben Blackmore found space of the overlap wide right to cross in the corner and improve the angle for Walker’s conversion. When Walker sailed his kick between the uprights the Eagles were 18-8 up and after a tricky first hour were now cruising to the win.
On fifty-eight an Anthony Thackeray step and lunge saw the old-timer put the ball on the line. Walker added the conversion for 24-8, now it was a mountain to climb for the Cumbrians.
After Thackeray was sin-binned on seventy minutes Tee Ritson grabbed a consolation try for Barrow when he went over in the left corner. Dallimore added the goal and with just two minutes left of the clock a determined effort from Jono Smith brought up the eighteen points. Dallimore was unable to add the conversion, the Eagles holding on in the end for a 30-18 win.
After a very tough opening forty, and the loss of two players with serious looking injuries, the Eagles found their mojo in the second half to sprint out to a big lead. Two late consolation tries for Barrow made it a more respectable scoreline but it was the Eagles side and supporters who will enjoy their trip back to South Yorkshire as they took back third spot in the table.
Eagles: Guzdek, Millar, Glover, Hellewell, Blackmore (T), Walker (4G), Thackeray (T, SB on 70), Moran, Burns, James, Davies, Farrell (2T), Brown. Subs: Makelim, Mason, Esslemont, Knowles.
Raiders: Ritson (T), Cross, Stack (T), Amean, Spedding, Dallimore (3G), Charnock, Johnson, Puara, Susino, Walne, Smith (T), Aspinwall. Subs: Mossop, Walker, Riley, Toal.
Referee: Michael Mannifield.