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Amazing comeback leads Barrow Raiders to Welsh win with match pictures



BARROW Raiders produced one of the greatest comebacks in living memory as they rose Lazarus-like from the dead to triumph in Wrexham.

Down and out at the break as they trailed 20-4, Raiders delved deep into their reserves to produce a second 40 minutes to set Barrow hearts racing and break those of the home team and supporters.

Led by the immense captain Liam Harrison and with some of the gutsiest try-line defence they could muster under a late onslaught, these were three points earned in the hardest of fashions.

The early signs were nothing but positive, even if the chances did go begging for the visitors.

First James Nixon hacked on a Darren Holt kick which home full-back Danny Hulme had allowed to bounce, but his touch was too heavy and the ball went dead.

Holt then sent Liam Campbell away on a fine break through the middle of the Crusaders defence, the half-back showing pace and guile to split the North Wales line.

He could have gone himself, but instead drew Hulme to him and threw inside for the open Liam Finch, who only had to catch the ball to score.

But the hooker could not do it, juggled in the air and put it to ground.

Those misses were forgiven as Barrow took the lead on eight minutes, when a Holt kick to the right corner cleared the defence and was picked up by Marc Dixon, who dived in to score.

Chances kept coming and a fine break from skipper Liam Harrison allowed Finch to make up for his earlier drop by taking the pass this time round.

He was tackled 10 yards out, but still Raiders kept coming, keeping the ball alive with some fine offloads before Campbell went for the line by the posts, only denied by a superb diving tackle from Jono Smith, showing speed and dexterity not often found in such a big man.

The tackle seemed to invigorate Crusaders who now came into their own, scoring their first try in Championship One as Smith broke the Barrow line on halfway and sent captain Andy Mousdale in.

With the lead in their hands at 6-4, North Wales took the initiative and ran with it.

Jamie Durbin jinked away from the flat-footed Dan Toal to score their second and Andy Ballard needed to be alert to stop a fine run from Leon Brennan.

Jack Pedley, playing his first game for Barrow since returning to the club from Workington, was held just short after going from dummy half, but the majority of play was on the Raiders’ line.

The visitors needed to hold out until half-time, but instead they let in two more tries – both after debatable calls from the touch judge.

The first came as Durbin was tackled wide on the left and rolled the ball out backwards with his ball-carrying arm clearly on the ground.

The linesman did not see it and allowed Rob Massam to pick up and run over Aaron Low to score. Massam was the beneficiary of another bad call right on the stroke of half-time as he followed up a Durbin kick to the corner that was clearly a yard into touch when he grounded it, but was allowed to stand as a try.

Holt was incredulous on the field, his team-mates the same as they went in 20-4 down and with the game almost gone from their grasp.

But Barrow are not a team to let a seemingly lost cause stand in their way and they started dominantly in the second half.

Toal was held up over the line at the end of one set of six and the next one saw Harrison juggle and take a Holt pass before spreading play to Ballard, who found Chris Larkin for the crucial first score of the second stanza.

Holt converted from the touchline and 20-10 looked a whole lot better for Barrow.

Harrison set the stage for what could have been more as he intercepted on his own line and broke to halfway, with no support, only for Larkin to carelessly loose the ball in a one-on-one tackle as he took play from dummy half.

Another set came and went on the Crusaders line without result, but Campbell soon found his way to another breakaway down the left to set the platform for a second try of the half.

It came, of course, from Toal – and what would a Barrow game be this season without his name on the scoresheet – as he jinked and stumbled his way over the line from 10 yards out. At 20-16, suddenly Barrow were the side with the momentum.

They almost turned that momentum into the lead as Ballard was held up over the line on the last tackle, his team-mates thinking he had scored, but Adam Walsh stopping him.

That tackle was to prove crucial as Crusaders then struck for the first time after the break.

Toal was able to brilliantly bring down Owain Brown as he broke for the line, but the same could not be said of the efforts of Nixon and Larkin as they allowed Brennan in to collect a Durbin kick with no opposition at all.

Somehow Barrow did not let the score dent their belief and a superb raking kick down the left wing by Ballard had Nixon chasing.

The speedy winger applied the pressure to Hulme, who botched it on his line, allowing Nixon to hack on into him, with Larkin first to pounce on the rebound and dive over the line.

The lead was still elusive though, at least it was until Barry Pugh broke 30 metres from the Crusaders line and had Finch in support, the hooker making no mistake as he took this pass with ease and went in by the posts. Holt’s conversion put Barrow in front with eight minutes to go for the first time since the first quarter.

There was much tension on the Barrow line still to come as Crusaders had three sets in quick succession, but Smith tried an overly-audacious offload on the third tackle by the posts and knocked-on.

He did the same on halfway, but Barrow did not take advantage and instead were back under the cosh in the final minute, with Ballard having to stop Hulme as he looked home free down the left wing.

There was still another home set, but Ballard again was there to take a Brown grubber and relieve the pressure as Barrow took a memorable win.

Have your say

There will always be critics, whatever The club do. But you can only applaud the fight back.

At the end of the season, the only thing that will be remembered is the win. Well done to the club.

Posted by George on 16 March 2012 at 23:07

Paul, I quote your original message .. "for a team thats supposed to be favourites to win the league having 20 points put passed you in the first half is laughable".

The fact that you used the term '20 points put passed you' confirms the fact that you are not a Raiders fan and are probably either a fan of another RL team or a bitter AFC fan.

A great win by a team of mainly locals, pulled together in a very short period of time with excellent fighting team spirit. Enough said.

Get down to Craven Park on Sunday for what should be a cracker.

Posted by Joe T on 13 March 2012 at 16:44

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