Sheffield Eagles let an 18-point lead slip after falling to a 36-22 defeat at Barrow Raiders.
The Eagles looked set to end their losing start to the campaign after an impressive first-half showing at Craven Park, but Mark Aston’s side were blown away after the interval as Barrow recorded back-to-back home victories over a crestfallen Eagles.
Aston was heavily reinforced from the Challenge Cup defeat with Cory Aston, Garry Lo, James Bentley, Jake Spedding and Jack Ashworth all back, and the fresh faces looked to pay immediate dividends.
Spedding in particular was hugely influential, and on 11 minutes he breached the Barrow line before handing on to Ben Blackmore to open the scoring. Aston converted.
The Eagles missed a golden chance to increase their lead when Josh Toole fluffed his lines after dropping the ball close to the line, but they were soon given a boost when Brett Carter’s professional foul on Ryan Millar earned him 10 minutes in the bin.
Aston’s side took advantage of their numerical supremacy when Matty Fozard picked up a loose ball to score, with Aston converting.
It got better for the Eagles when Bentley’s pass found Lo who smashed through his man one-on-one to score, and again Aston added the extras.
With the Eagles threatening to run riot, they lost momentum towards the end of the half and Barrow gave themselves a lifeline when Andy Litherland crossed in the corner after several offloads.
After a strong end to the first-half, Barrow kept the pressure on at the start of the second stanza when Dan Toal crossed for a converted score to reduce the deficit to eight points.
The comeback continued when, despite losing Luke Cresswell to injury, Barrow crossed through Ryan Duffy and Carter converted.
The Eagles suffered a further blow when Blackmore was forced off through injury, and worse was to follow when Shane Toal strolled in at the corner to put the hosts in front, but Carter sent the conversion wide.
Barrow pushed further clear through Shane Toal’s breakaway converted try following a mistake by Lo, and further damage followed after Joe Bullock’s try.
Shane Toal completed his hat-trick inside the final 10 minutes, but the Eagles had the final say through Lo’s score on the hooter.
Eagles: Millar; Lo, Toole, Spedding, Blackmore; Aston, Brown; James, Fozard, Magrin; Bentley, Davies; Ashworth. Interchange: Burns, Offerdahl, Thomas, Pick.
Scorers: Tries: Blackmore (11), Fozard (16), Lo (24, 80) Goals: Aston 3/3, Thomas 0/1
Barrow: Cresswell; S. Toal, Hulme, Litherland, Carter; Fieldhouse, Parata; Bullock, Ashall, Walker; Smith, Morrow; Susino. Interchange: Mossop, Riley, D. Toal, Duffy.
Scorers: Tries: Litherland (32), D. Toal (43), Duffy (52), S.Toal (56, 62, 73), Bullock (65) Goals: Carter 4/7
Referee: Marcus Griffiths