Sheffield Eagles fell to their third consecutive defeat after going down 18-32 against bottom club Bradford Bulls at Belle Vue.
With their Championship Shield semi-final place already assured, the Eagles failed to build on what was a positive display against Toulouse on Monday, as Mark Aston’s side found already relegated Bradford too hot to handle.
In the build up to the game, Aston called on his side to try and build some momentum in their final three games before the knockout stages, but the Eagles were on the back foot in the opening stages as Bradford got their noses in front.
Ex-Eagle, and Aston’s son, Cory was instrumental in the first try when he made space for Vila Halafihi to score, and Aston added the extras.
On 11 minutes a chip from Joe Keyes was collected by Omari Caro who touched down, and Aston kicked the conversion.
The Eagles fluffed their lines twice when close to the Bradford line, but on 32 minutes they were back in the game when Mark Mexico played in Elliot Minchella who crossed, and Simon Brown converted.
The game was turned on its head when four minutes later Matty Fozard darted over the whitewash, but Brown failed with the conversion.
After Mexico left the scene with a shoulder injury, the hosts were dealt a further blow when Caro bagged his second try on the stroke of half-time, but Aston missed the two.
The Eagles came out fighting at the start of the second half, and after Remy Marginet’s pinpoint kick was collected by Ben Blackmore, the winger touched down to reduce the deficit. Brown missed the conversion.
The hosts hit the front when Garry Lo got in on the act to power through Ethan Ryan to score, but Brown missed a tricky conversation from the touchline.
That was as good as it got for the Eagles as the visitors took control of the game. They re-took the lead through Iliess Maconi’s try, and Caro completed his hat-trick after bouncing through several tackles to score, with Aston converting to give the Bulls a handy eight point advantage.
Mistakes in possession were costing the Eagles dear, with Bradford edging closer to a rare win.
The victory was sealed late on when Lee Smith spotted a gap in the line, scampering over the whitewash, leaving Aston to rubber stamp the win by slotting the conversion.
Eagles: Owens; Lo, Yere, Flynn, Blackmore; Brown, Marginet; Wheeldon, Fozard, Trout; James, Straugheir; Minchella. Interchange: Whiteley, Mexico, Scott, Milton.
Scorers: Tries: Minchella (32), Fozard (36), Blackmore (43), Lo (48) Goals: Brown 1/4
Bradford: Ryan; Macani, Halafihi, Smith, Caro; Aston, Keyes; Magrin, Hallas, Kirk; Hodgson, Bentley; Sironen. Interchange: Peltier, Oledzki, Wilkinson, Butterworth.
Scorers: Tries: Halafihi (5), Caro (12, 40, 64) Macani (54), Smith (78). Goals: Aston 4/6