Tremendous comeback sees Barrow Raiders win
Barrow Raiders 36 Sheffield Eagles 22
BARROW Raiders staged a remarkable comeback to secure a hard-earned win over Sheffield Eagles at the JF Hornby Stadium on Sunday.
Trailing 18-4 at the break, and their precious unbeaten home record stretching back to 2016 at risk, it needed someone special to change the pattern of the game.
Up stepped Dan Toal, whose no nonsense style put a completely different completion on the clash.
The forward was colossal throughout the second half and his try within a minute of the restart was just the impetus Barrow needed.
Once they got into their rhythm there was only going to be one winner as they ran in 32 unanswered points in the Betfred Championship game before Sheffield scored a consolation try seconds before full time.
Sheffield, yet to win in the league this season, were on fire at the start as they toyed with what was normally a rock-solid Barrow defence.
The Yorkshire side, using dual registration players from St Helens and loan men from Castleford, turned the screw on a side who had defeated them in the Challenge Cup fourth round last week.
But once Dan Toal grabbed a foothold there looked to be only one winner with his brother Shane putting the icing on the cake with a hat-trick of tries which included a tremendous pick up from just inside his own half.
Other players to get in the act were Andy Litherland, Ryan Duffy and Joe Bullock, with Brett Carter kicking four conversions.
Despite the tremendous win Barrow were dealt a player blow when exciting full-back Luke Cresswell received on the field treatment in the second half before being taken to hospital for what was understood to be a leg break.
Barrow had a chance to quickly make their mark in the opening exchanges when Alec Susino blasted clear and picked out Karl Ashall. He unleashed Cresswell who looked certain to score until he was hauled down inches short by a heroic James Bentley tackle.
The Eagles response was swift when weak tackling allowed the visitors to make good ground down the right and Ben Blackmore finished the move off with Cory Aston kicking his first of two goals.
Barrow found themselves down to 12 men after Brett Carter was sent to the sin bin, and during his absence Sheffield made hay, scoring two further tries through Matty Fozard and Jack Spedding, with Aston and Simon Brown successful with conversions.
At that stage it was virtually one-way traffic as Sheffield cut through Barrow’s defence at will.
The Raiders needed a break, and it arrived when a flowing move involving Ryan Fieldhouse and Jono Smith led to Litherland – who later collected a chest injury – scoring in the corner, but the attempted kick from the recently returned Carter was off target.
Barrow continued to press as they looked to reduce the deficit, but they trailed 18-4 at the break.
But what a second half turnaround as Dan Toal narrowed the gap to eight points when he burrowed through to score close to the sticks with Carter on target.
After the injury to Cresswell and with play still close to the Sheffield line Barrow closed the gap through Ryan Duffy, who crashed over following a pass from Parata.
The game was held up again for a lengthy period as Ben Blackmore received treatment, and once it resumed Ryan Fieldhouse and Declan Hulme combined to release Shane Toal, who dived over in the corner.
The younger of the Toal brothers produced a moment of magic to score his second try. Collecting a spilled ball the winger, just inside his own half, skipped through an attempted tackle and hit the accelerator button to burst into space, raising his hand in celebration as he touched down under the posts.
The fans hardly had time to breathe before Danny Morrow picked out Joe Bullock and the giant prop surged forward, brushing off Sheffield defenders to score, with Carter kicking both conversions.
With seconds to go before full time Gary Lo scored a consolation try.
Barrow have a busy Easter programme ahead with a visit to Halifax on Good Friday before hosting Swinton Lions on Easter Monday.
The Raiders will expect to make a number of changes for the games with new signing Gene Ormsby and captain Martin Aspinwall set to feature.
BARROW RAIDERS: Luke Cresswell, Shane Toal, Declan Hulme, Andy Litherland, Brett arter, Ryan Fieldhouse, Dean Parata, Joe Bullock, Karl Ashall, Tom Walker, Jono Smith, Danny Morrow, Alec Susino. Subs(all used): Nathan Mossop, Ryan Duffy, Glenn Riley, Dan Toal.
SHEFFIELD EAGLES: Ryan Millar, Garry Lo, Josh Toole, Jack Spedding, Ben Blackmore, Cory Aston, Simon Brown, Matt James, Matty Fozard, Jon Magrin, James Bentley, Oliver Davies, Jack Ashworth. Subs (all used): Greg Burns, Mark Offerdahl, Oscar Thomas, Shaun Pick.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.
Catch the after match reaction from Barrow Raiders coach Paul Crarey on the club’s Facebook.