Sheffield Eagles’ return to Owlerton after 25 years ended in a shock 24-18 defeat by strugglers Barrow Raiders.
The Raiders – who had lost their two opening games – overturned the odds as they showed more desire and came to terms better with a heavy pitch at the greyhound stadium.
Coach Mark Aston felt what should have been a big day for the club had fallen flat because of poor performance by the team.
“Owlerton i s a great venue, the supporters got behind us but the disappointing thing is the players didn’t participate in what should have been a homecoming for Sheffield Eagles,” he said.
“Barrow gave us a lesson in how to play rugby. It was about attitude and the will and the want. Too many people were not at the races.
“There’s no excuses, the team was not good enough and they haven’t applied themselves and that’s down to attitude.”
Eagles suffered an early blow with back rower Will Hope going off with a knee injury and at half-time he left the field on crutches cutting the forward options on the bench.
They did get the first points on rugby’s return to Owlerton with Andrew Henderson – playing his 350th game in the UK - passing out to Menzie Yere to put winger Scott Turner in at the corner.
The lead was to change hands four times with Barrow’s determination to keep going forward paying off as Jack Morrison crashed over. Ian Mort’s kick put the visitors ahead.
Nathan Mossop was sin binned but being a man down didn’t halt Barrow’s charge with loose-forward Dan Toal going over and Mort kicking the goal for an 12-4 lead at half-time.
Eagles came back with two tries in the first six minutes after the restart. Substitute hooker Gareth Owen squeezed in from dummy half and stand-off Patch Walker starting and finishing the next move. Dominic Brambani’s only successful kick of the game took the Eagles ahead.
Turner’s second try pushed out the lead but Barrow, inspired by half-back Liam Campbell, spoilt the party.
Toal followed up Campbell’s grubber kick on the third tackle for his second try and they went ahead with second rower Liam Harrison bursting through to the line with Mort adding the goal.
Barrow made sure of the win with a penalty kicked by Mort with two minutes to go leaving the Eagles with only a losing bonus point on an unhappy return to Owlerton.
* Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Hanson, Taulapapa; Walker, Brambani; Blagbrough, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Green, Hope. Subs: Owen, Garside, Scott, Ford. Tries: Turner 12, 58. Owen 42. Walker 46. Goals: Brambani 1/ 4.
* Barrow: Mort; Turner, Low, Wiper, Grant; Shaw, Campbell, Bullock, Speakman, Dawson, Harrison, Briscoe, Toal. Subs: Mossop, Burke, Butler, Morrison.
Tries: Morrison 27. Toal 34, 62. Harrison 69. Goals: Mort 4/5.
Referee: Joe Cobb.