A HAT-trick of tries from Cory Aston helped condemn Barrow Raiders to a 38-22 defeat against Sheffield Eagles in the opening match of this year’s Betfred Championship Summer Bash in Blackpool.

The Raiders had fought back from being 8-0 down early on to lead 12-8 at half time through converted tries from Shane Toal and Jarrad Stack, both of which required consultation from the video referee.

But two tries in the first five minutes of the second half – one coming in somewhat fortuitous circumstances – helped take the game away from Barrow and despite a spirited fightback from them in the final 10 minutes, it was Sheffield who were celebrating at the final hooter.

The Eagles enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, dominating the territory and keeping the Raiders pinned in their own half, and got their reward for that on six minutes when Aston – re-signed on loan from Castleford Tigers earlier this week – ghosted through the defence for a try which he also converted.

Two consecutive penalties from Barrow, one for holding down and one for offside, then allowed stand-off Aston the opportunity to kick Sheffield further in front from 15 metres out, putting the Yorkshire side eight points up after 11 minutes.

The Raiders started to come back into the match after this, but were let down by unforced errors during promising attacks and conceding penalties when on the defensive.

The video referee came to their rescue on 16 minutes after deeming Eagles loose forward Joshua Toole was held up over the line and the Barrow defence did well to prevent him from scoring in the 27th minute.

Three mintues later, they hit back. A strong carry from Glenn Riley took the Raiders to within striking distance and although Dean Parata was held up short, his grubber kick from dummy-half was dotted down in the corner by the diving winger Toal, with Jamie Dallimore converting after referee Liam Staveley consulted with the video referee.

TV official Robert Hicks was called into action again on 35 minutes, this time taking several minutes to decide whether or not Stack had got the ball after powering over from close range before finally giving the thumbs-up, with Dallimore again adding the extras.

That saw Barrow go in leading by four points at the break, although there was something of a confrontational end to the half following a melee sparked after Sheffield had been forced into touch on the hooter.

The Eagles were swiftly back in front when play resumed though thanks to two quick tries – the first coming when a grubber kick bounced up and hit the crossbar, falling into the hands of Aston to grab his second converted score of the afternoon on 42 minutes.

Three minutes later, Sheffield were in again after Barrow knocked on 20 metres from their own line, followed by their opponents working an attack from the resulting scrum which was finished with Menzie Yere going over for an unconverted score.

The Eagles were now in the ascendancy, and Aston’s third try of the afternoon and one from Toole looked to have put the result beyond doubt.

Barrow did threaten an improbable comeback in the final 10 minutes with two quickfire tries as Dallimore twisted his way over for a try which he also converted, followed by the stand-off chipping over the top of the defence and Gene Ormsby chasing down the ball for an unconverted score.

But a knock-on from Stack close to the line after a tap penalty killed those hopes and Corey Makelim’s try, converted by Oscar Thomas, two minutes from time landed the final blow .The Raiders now have a week off to regroup ahead of the visit of Rochdale Hornets on Sunday, June 10.

Barrow Raiders: Ryan Fieldhouse; Brett Carter, Declan Hulme, Gene Ormsby, Shane Toal; Jamie Dallimore, Karl Ashall; Joe Bullock, Nathan Mossop, Martin Aspinwall, Jono Smith, Jarrad Stack, Dan Toal. Interchange: Dean Parata, Matty While, Glenn Riley, Ryan Duffy.

Sheffield Eagles: Matt Costello; Ryan Millar, Menzie Yere, Jake Spedding, Ben Blackmore; Cory Aston, Corey Makelim; Mark Offerdahl, Matthew Fozard, Jonathan Magrin, Jack Ashworth, Shaun Pick, Joshua Toole. Interchange: Oscar Thomas, Oliver Davies, Michael Weldon, Matthew Lees.

Referee: Liam Staveley.