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Friday, 03 July 2015

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Barrow Raiders edged out by Sheffield: with pictures and video highlights

  • Barrow Raiders v Sheffield Eagles Video Highlights Click Here



IF they produced their best, Barrow Raiders could beat Sheffield Eagles.

That was the pre-match prediction of Barrow boss Darren Holt, and his words proved prophetic as Raiders gave near their best and came so close to shocking the Championship leaders.

Anyone walking into Craven Park yesterday – and there were only 874 who did, a woeful attendance and a sad indictment of the level of support for the team this season – would have struggled to separate top from bottom in the table.

Come the end of 80 minutes, only two points could keep them apart as Barrow battled hard, produced their best defensive display of the season and caused a succession of problems for a visiting team on a hot streak of form.

In the absence of a string of first-team regulars – Kurt Haggerty, Aaron Low and Scott Kaighan just three of those missing out – Holt put together a Raiders side with a slightly makeshift appearance on paper.

But Dean McGilvray shone at centre, keeping Sheffield’s major attacking force Menzie Yere off the scoresheet – a rarity indeed – Dan Toal showed once more that he is just as comfortable in the second row as at loose forward – and Liam Campbell continued his learning curve at full-back.

The term ‘learning curve’ is one Holt has used a lot this term as his side have struggled to establish themselves in a higher division following last season’s promotion.

But here at Craven Park the lessons finally seemed to be sinking in, even it some of the old foibles did return to haunt them at key moments.

Just seven days earlier, Raiders enjoyed possession for the first five minutes at Whitehaven and did precisely nothing with it.

There was deja-vu in the air as they started this game too, Toal stealing the ball from Mitch Stringer on the second tackle of the game and Barrow then setting up camp within 20 metres of the try-line.

It looked as though the results would be the same – nothing – as two drop-outs led to close calls but no points, before the final tackle of the fourth set saw Sean Casey misfoot the defence by placing a grubber by the posts and Liam Finch followed up to ground.

Rare indeed have been the times this season when Barrow have gone ahead with the first score.

Rarer too have been the spells when they have held out under extensive pressure, but they managed that now after Campbell almost fumbled a kick through and Mike Backhouse knocked on just 15 metres out from his line.

A penalty for an infringement in the scrum seemed ready to herald a familiar tale of gifting the opposition points, yet the Eagles found no way through to the left, the right, or up the middle before Casey launched a 78-yard drop-out that eased the worries.

They pushed on the defence once more, but this time Yere was given chance to make a rare break, charging 60 yards down the left and putting Sheffield on the front foot.

Former Barrow man Andrew Henderson knocked on from dummy half in front of the posts, but the only three men in the ground not to see it were referee Joe Cobb and his touch judges, a mistake which led to Quentin Laulu Togagae scoring the first of his hat-trick of tries with a sharp run on the right.

QLT was soon in again as the defence opened up for him on the left and he ran in unopposed – all from Barrow captain Liam Harrison trying an offload that went to ground in midfield and coughing up possession. Another harsh lesson on the cost of sloppy mistakes.

There was another on the offensive front after the Casey kick-off was so well-placed as to force a drop-out, and McGilvray was taken high in a tackle as he looked to cross wide on the right.

This presented a perfect opportunity for them to hit back immediately, but Andrew Dawson rushed to play the ball on the line and failed to do so properly, handing the Eagles a reprieve.

It was but brief, however, as Dawson made up for his error four minutes later with a charging run to the line. This time he played the ball quickly and Nathan Mossop picked up and ran across the line to score, putting his side 12-8 ahead.

Casey knocked on from the kick-off in a further display of unnecessary errors – as if the Barrow faithful had not seen enough already this season – but the defence held firm again.

The line was breached once more before the break as QLT completed his hat-trick as he reacted fastest to a Dominic Brambani grubber kick to the side of the sticks and fears were raised it would enable Sheffield to up their game and kick on in the second half.

Barrow gave them an early chance as Backhouse knocked on from the kick-off, but the winger and his team-mates stood firm and would not be breached.

Even when they gave away two penalties in quick succession – and they did so twice as Mr Cobb failed to apply consistency to his decisions on ripping out and offsides – there was no way through, Danny Jones with a fine interception on his line to end one spell of pressure.

Still, Sheffield were the more attacking side and they were rewarded when Henderson crossed from dummy half at his unhappy former home, the boos that greeted the effort aimed more at Mr Cobb and his decisions than the scorer himself.

QLT could have had a fourth, but a fine ankle tap dropped him short of the line and forced a drop-out, but the final quarter was all about building pressure from Barrow.

They pushed and pushed, forwards and backs uniting to attack the Eagles line, which broke when Jones stormed through at an angle, shrugged off the tacklers and grounded.

The margin was now only two points, but it could not be erased despite Raiders driving forward for all they are worth.

A defeat maybe, but the best Barrow have played for some time and a sign that lessons are being learnt.

It was not quite the 100 per cent display needed to beat the Eagles, but it gave signs of positive intent and hopes for the future.



Have your say

They would have won this with Kaighan in. FACT!

Posted by Jason Connell on 4 June 2013 at 00:10

Another defeat, no surprise

Posted by B Horse on 2 June 2013 at 17:06

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