Sheffield Eagles 44 Barrow Raiders 18: Aston's men cap home campaign with dominant win
Sheffield Eagles fought off a comeback from struggling Barrow Raiders to finish their 2019 home campaign with a 44-18 victory.
Having led 16-0 within the opening 25 minutes, the Eagles saw their advantage cut before Barrow moved 18-16 ahead early in the second half.
But the Eagles' quality shone through and kept them in the hunt for the Championship play-offs ahead of a return to Wembley Stadium for the 1895 Cup final next weekend.
Sheffield got off to the perfect start as Ryan Millar was given a walk-in finish following an early goal line drop out.
Millar raced over from 50 metres following an offload from Menzie Yere as the Eagles extended their lead midway through the half.
The Eagles were over again from the restart as Aaron Brown finished next to the posts following an offload from Brad Knowles.
Barrow hit back almost instantly however as Tom Walker forced his way over from a short drive to the line.
The Raiders capitalised on a poor error from a kick return to cut the deficit further just before half-time, Deon Cross scooping up a loose ball and placing down beneath the posts.
Barrow's resurgence continued early in the second half and, three minutes after the restart, the visitors moved ahead for the first time courtesy of a try from Jono Smith next to the posts.
The hosts were their own worst enemies again 10 minutes into the second period as Knowles was sin-binned following an altercation with a Barrow player on the floor.
They had Josh Guzdek to thank for not falling further behind shortly afterwards, the full-back forcing a knock-on from Cross when Barrow had a two-on-one break.
Guzdek, one of the standout performers throughout the 2019 campaign, showed his worth at the other end a few minutes later as he fell across the line to regain the lead.
Corey Makelim barged his way over from a short drive to extend the advantage to 10 points just four minutes later.
The impressive Millar brought the Eagles onto the attack from a break inside his own half before Menzie Yere dived across the whitewash to secure the two points.
Makelim managed to place down for his brace under pressure from two defenders as the Eagles hit the 40-point mark.
Frustration got the better of Barrow as Daniel Morrow was sin-binned for dissent before Yere touched down a second try on the full-time hooter.
Sheffield: Guzdek, Millar, Yere, Ogden, Blackmore, Walker, Thackeray, Pick, Burns, Knowles, Esslemont, Farrell, Brown; Subs: Makelim, Dixon, Meadows, Hellewell.
Scorers: Tries: Millar (3,21), Brown (23), Guzdek (58), Makelim (62, 73), Yere (67, 80). Goals: Walker 5/6, Guzdek 1/1, Yere 0/1.
Barrow: Cresswell, Cross, Hulme, Stack, Loxan, Dallimore, White, Walker, Puara, Duffy, Smith, Morrow, Susino; Subs: Johnston, Toal, Riley, Seguier.
Scorers: Tries: Walker (26), Cross (33), Smith (43). Goals: Dallimore 3/3
Referee: Gareth Hewer