Sheffield Eagles exited the Challenge Cup at the fourth round stage after a 28-16 defeat at Barrow Raiders.
The Eagles’ miserable start to the 2018 season continued in Baltic conditions at Craven Park, as Mark Aston’s side slipped to their sixth consecutive defeats in all competitions.
Half-back Simon Brown’s return to the flock failed to change the Eagles’ fortunes, despite a second-half improvement from Aston’s side who return to Cumbria for a repeat fixture in the Betfred Championship this Sunday.
With the likes of Cory Aston, Garry Lo and new signing Corey Maklim all unavailable, the Eagles were again down on numbers, but Brown returned after re-signing during the week, whilst Ben Morris was also included on dual-registration from St. Helens.
The Eagles made a bright start in wintry conditions and despite going behind to a Ryan Fieldhouse converted try, they were soon level pegging on 13 minutes. Matty Fozard scurried over the whitewash from dummy-half in front on the posts, allowing Oscar Thomas a simple conversion for a level game.
Mistakes in possession from the Eagles allowed the hosts to take control, and they were back in front when a Fieldhouse break allowed Joe Bullock in to score. Brett Carter converted.
Fieldhouse was involved in Barrow’s third converted score when his cross-field kick was expertly grounded by Jarrad Stack, and there was further damage before the break as Gene Ormsby bagged a debut try, again converted by Carter.
The Eagles had opportunities in the early stages of the second stanza, but crucial errors close to the Barrow line prevented Aston’s side from reducing the deficit.
Persistence finally paid off just before the hour mark when Iliess Macani crossed for the visitors, but Thomas missed with the conversion attempt.
Any hopes of a comeback were quickly quashed as Andy Litherland crossed for the Raiders after a classy show-and-go on the last, but Carter missed with the extras.
Inside the final 10 minutes Ben Blackmore was placed on report for a late hit on Litherland, whilst Barrow’s Bullock left the field on a stretcher after an injury sustained in the tackle.
It was the Eagles who had the last word during the closing stages when Ryan Millar raced clear to score, and Brown added the extras.
Barrow: Cresswell; S. Toal, Ormsby, Litherland, Carter; Fieldhouse, Parata; Bullock, Ashall, Walker; Smith, Stack; Susino. Interchange: Mossop, D. Toal, Duffy, Riley.
Scorers: Tries: Fieldhouse (6), Bullock (16), Stack (21), Ormsby (33), Litherland (65) Goals: Carter 4/5
Eagles: Millar; Macani, Igbinedion, Toole, Blackmore; Thomas, Brown; Offerdahl, Fozard, Pick; James, Davies; Moran. Interchange: Burns, Djalout, Morris, Magrin.
Scorers: Tries: Fozard (13), Macani (58), Millar (75) Goals: Thomas 1/2 , Brown 1/1
Referee: Brandon Robinson