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Barrow Raiders pass French exam - with video and pictures

  • Barrow Raiders v FC Lezignan Video Highlights Click Here


Barrow Raiders 32 FC Lezignan 22

ZUT alors, what a match.

At some point this year, someone has told Barrow Raiders they are not allowed any straightforward victories and they have to do things the hard way.

Witness the tension as they held on against Whitehaven to reach the last eight of the Northern Rail Cup. Recall the nail-biting anxiety as they fought back from 20-0 down to defeat North Wales Crusaders 26-24. And now rejoice in the glorious defeat of the French Resistance as they overcame a 16-0 deficit to trounce their overseas invaders and reach round four of the Challenge Cup.

Whoever they are paired with in tonight’s draw – be it a Super League giant, a Championship One rival, or an old and familiar foe – the vocal supporters on the Craven Park terraces seem destined for another afternoon of glorious rugby league.

Lezignan, the last four French Championships making the trip with them over the Channel, showed for 25 minutes why their countrymen fear them and why they defeated Whitehaven at the same stage of the competition last year.

They came with those memories fresh in the mind and with a pair of players in Nathan Wynn and Yoan Tisseyre who had made the trip to Furness before with previous club Toulouse.

They also came with a pack the size of elephants, half-backs built like gorillas and a love of getting stuck into their tackles – intermittently legally and illegally throughout the afternoon.

It was this size, desire and determination which carried them into a commanding lead inside 22 minutes.

Full-back Rhys Lenarduzzi – his name, along with those of many of his team-mates a delight for the PA announcer throughout the afternoon – started them off as he collected a short pass from Kane Bentley and went through on an inside line, all on the back of a penalty for a high tackle.

Another penalty – this one against skipper Liam Harrison for ripping the ball out – saw them score again as Tisseyre romped in from close range and a third Barrow mistake, this time as Lee Haney knocked-on 20 metres from his line, give the opening for the third French score, Nicolas Munoz putting Vincent Michau free as Dan Toal lay injured on the ground with a shoulder problem.

Things were looking bleak for Raiders and a hammering was on the cards as the visiting defence moved with superb speed across their line and worked the referee to perfection in these early exchanges, avoiding punishment for high tackles, laying on in the tackle and offside – all of which they would be pulled up for later on.

Chances went begging as Barrow looked for a response, twice passes going into touch as panic set in out wide, while Jack Pedley was held up over the line and Barry Pugh threw the ball straight to an opponent as he looked for options.

It seemed everything was going against the home side, especially when referee Greg Dolan blew for an offside penalty against Lezignan just as James Finch ran on to a superb short pass and crossed the line for a disallowed score.

But immediately, Raiders blew away that frustration as Liam Campbell performed the perfect dummy pass on the left flank and cut inside with ball in hand past the flummoxed defence to raise the roof with a score.

The crowd were now backing their side to the hilt and Harrison responded in true captain’s fashion as he barged through to score from a Campbell pass.

The hooter was looming and it went with Barrow on the attack, Finch inches from scoring as his foot clipped the sideline while he dived for the corner.

With Pedley leaving the field early in the second half with blood pouring from a cut on the side of his head, the momentum could have shifted, but instead Raiders kept at it and Finch got his try, thanks to a great ball steal from Lee Dutton which set the platform for an attack down the right.

The referee was picking up more and more on the French infringements now – Holt landing a penalty from one of them – and it was no surprise when a 26-man brawl erupted following a high tackle from Franck Rovira on Andy Ballard.

Rovira went in for more and a swarm of players crowded round, some real hard punches being thrown in proper fighting style – there were no handbags here.

Rovira got his 10 minutes in the bin, as did Andy Bracek, while others see throwing some mighty left hooks, right crosses and straight jabs will wait for the verdict of the RFL after the incident was put on report.

Holt kicked another penalty on the back of the incident and then sent Campbell in for his second try minutes later, his score making it 28-16 and seemingly sewing up the win with 13 minutes to go.

But for the first time in the second half, Lezignan found their attacking feet once again, with a great passing move stretching Barrow to the right and back inside again, where Bentley crossed by the posts and turned the game on its head.

The anxiety was there again, but Barrow had obviously decided they’d had enough of it themselves as Harrison, Chris Larkin and Campbell broke.

The French side were stretched and play went wide left where James Gordon displayed an unheralded kicking skill as he picked out Haney on the right and he outjumped Nicolas Piquemal to score and seal a place in round four.

Tension and tries, brilliance and brawling – this game had it all and what a cracker it was.

If it’s all the same though, a more straightforward victory next time out would be much appreciated for those of us with no fingernails left to chew.

Have your say

You did us real proud yesterday boys.pure good rampant rugby!the crowd were in high spirits and gave full support (unlike Bluebirds fans who do nothing but moan) .top tear up aswel!well worth the entrance fee and a smashing day out for all there.come on you raiders!!!!beep beep.

Posted by ganaban man on 26 March 2012 at 16:10


Posted by dan crook on 26 March 2012 at 11:48

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