Barrow Raiders seal promotion with video and pictures
Last updated at 17:28, Friday, 20 July 2012
CO-OPERATIVE CHAMPIONSHIP ONE RESULT
BARROW RAIDERS 48 WHITEHAVEN RLFC 16
IT was a night that few saw coming in the dark days of winter.
Nine months ago it was unthinkable – Barrow Raiders were thrown out of the Championship by the RFL, handed a new home in Championship One, had no money, players, no coach and seemingly no hope.Yet on this cool July evening, in front of a big home crowd and a national TV audience, the hard work, determination and dreams of a strong and committed few came to fruition on a night to remember.
Talk of the Des Johnston era, the debts built up, the illegal payments made and the punishment accordingly handed down has long since disappeared on the Craven Park terraces.
Instead, the supporters of this great club have been overtaken by a new vim, a resurrected vigour as a team of predominantly locals under a coaching team enshrined in Barrow RL history, have caught the imagination and last night they fulfilled their destiny.
Barrow Raiders have been promoted to the Championship at the first time of asking and no-one can take that away from them.
Darren Holt’s side went into this game on the back of only a second loss of the season at Doncaster and knowing opponents Whitehaven would be no pushovers, eager as they are to clinch a top-four spot and promotion themselves.
There could have been a hangover from the Doncaster loss, fatigue from a side playing a second game in five days, as opposed to visitors playing a first match in 19.
Instead, what Barrow produced was a high-class display worthy of a team at the top of the table and not out of place in the division above.
It started with Raiders camped on the Haven line thanks to a Scott Kaighan 40/20.
Chris Larkin was stopped, so was Jamie Butler, then Andy Bracek and James Dandy as the West Cumbrians refused to buckle.
A knock on gave Barrow another set as Whitehaven scrambled and on the last the breakthrough came, Kaighan hanging a high kick to the right corner, Dandy palming down and Bracek grounding, the score confirmed by the video referee.
That was the start Raiders needed – yet have so rarely achieved this season – but Haven came back and debutant Tom Hemingway marked his bow with a try off an inside pass from Lee Doran.
It was a temporary blip and soon Barrow were out in front again, making more than 60 yards with a set and finishing off with old twinkletoes Liam Campbell mesmerising the defence as he went in for try number 18 of the season from 15 yards out.
The video referee ruled out an effort from Ryan Duffy after skipper Liam Harrison had knocked on a loose pass, but the lead was extended soon enough, winger Lee Haney taking the final pass in a swift move from left to right that ended with him crossing in the corner.
With an 18-6 lead at the break, Barrow had one foot already in the higher division, but they needed to perform for 40 more minutes to make sure.
They started the second half like a house on fire – winger James Nixon pouncing as Max Wiper spilled a high Kaighan kick and showing all his old speed and acceleration to race through the scattered defence and score.
Nixon was followed over the line by full-back Andy Ballard as the ball was once more spread across the line and the pacey Barrow man went through a gap and powered over a marker on the line to ground.
Everything was coming up rosy in the Raiders garden, no more so than when a short pass from Campbell freed Harrison near the line and he did the rest, bouncing off would-be tacklers for a score that all-but settled matters with 26 minutes still left on the clock.
The determination of the hosts was summed up brilliantly by a magnificent tackle from hooker Liam Finch on Whitehaven prop Dave Houghton – twice his size, but cut down like a sapling attacked by a giant axe as the Barrow man forced the ball loose with a hit any forward would have been proud of.
Those forwards wanted their own piece of the action, none more so than dual-reg man Brad Brennan – one of only two men on the field, the other being Andrew Dawson, not to have scored for Raiders this season.
Brennan powered through the middle of the park, shedding tacklers like a viper sheds its skin, before offloading to the one man able to keep up with him in support.
That man was not Campbell, Kaighan, nor Finch, but fellow prop Jamie Butler, who took the pass and ran the final 10 yards to the biggest cheer of the night from the supporters and his own team-mates.
A brief Haven resurgence saw Craig Calvert outjump an injured Haney for a try and Jamie Rooney score on a return to Craven Park marked by boos and a hostile reception from a home crowd easy to forget the good times and focus on the bad.
It was the good times that ruled come the end though, as Finch scored with the last play of the match, hacking on a spilled pass in the middle of the park and chasing it over the whitewash before grounding inches shy of the dead ball line.
The hooter had gone by the time Ryan Shaw kicked his eighth goal of the night and the partying had begun for a team and their supporters who could not have imagined their current position less than a year ago.
That’s promotion dealt with then. Now for the title.
First published at 18:30, Thursday, 19 July 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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Old John,we must never,ever share with Barrow AFC.We must keep our own autonimy to guarantee success in the future
Great to see some unity from Mark, Big Al and Old John.
I'm a Barrovian that follows both codes. I travel up to the RL although I only go to the soccer when they play in the Midlands.
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