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Tuesday, 07 July 2015

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RAIDERS boss Darren Holt is warning his side face potentially their hardest game of the year on the opening weekend.

Barrow head to Northern Rail Cup holders Leigh Centurions in the first round of the competition’s group matches tomorrow for what is sure to be a crunching tie.

The match at Leigh Sports Village will be Barrow’s only trip to a Championship side all season and the Centurions are among the favourites to retain their title (3pm kick-off).

Holt has warned his players what to expect and said: “This is the very first game we are going to have and it could potentially be the hardest game we are going to have all year – away at a top Championship club who won the competition last year.

“It’s never an easy place to go anyway. We are a division below and we have to be realistic about these things.

“The game will be as tough as it comes.

“You don’t get to win the competition if you are not a good team.

“They have brought in some new players, like Bob Beswick, from Halifax, and a few others, they have a new coach – which can sometimes be an added bonus – so it is going to be a tough match, there is no getting away from that.

“It’s one I’m looking to. I’m looking forward to seeing our boys go up against it and testing themselves.”

He added: “I’ve said before, it’s not about the results, it’s about the performances from the boys, how they apply themselves on the pitch.

“We’re just looking for improvement and it will be a good learning curve for some of the less-experienced people in the squad.

“It will put us in good stead for the league season.”

Barrow will have a 26-man squad to choose from tomorrow, with broken leg victim Jack Pedley out injured and prop forward Andy Bracek unavailable due to family commitments.

Holt sees the latter’s absence as being an unlikely help and added: “It was pre-arranged before he signed, a family commitment.

“If I’m honest, it ties in well, because it means it gives other people the opportunity to play and it makes my selection easier. I’ve now only got 26 players to choose from instead of the full 28!

“I’ve said all along these Northern Rail Cup games will be different and they will give everyone an opportunity of competitive rugby and to stake their claim for the league season.”

After tomorrow’s match, Barrow face Workington, Swinton and Whitehaven in the group stages of the competition, with four teams from each of the two groups advancing to the quarter-finals.

The Leigh game stands to be the toughest of the quartet and asked what he thought a good result for his side would be, Holt added: “50-0 to Barrow.

“If it’s 50-0 to Barrow, then I am quietly confident I won’t have any complaints or any things I need to address. Anything other than that, then there might be aspects of the game I might want to pull people up on.

“But seriously, it is about the performance of the lads, how they approach the game, how they take things out on to the pitch and the attitude they show.”

Raiders (from): Mike Backhouse, Andy Ballard, Mike Botes, Jamie Butler, Liam Campbell, James Dandy, Andrew Dawson, Marc Dixon, Lee Dutton, James Finch, Liam Finch, James Gordon, Lee Haney, Liam Harrison, Darren Holt, Scott Kaighan, Chris Larkin, Andy Litherland, Aaron Low, Ruairi McGoff, Brad Marwood, James Nixon, Martin Ostler, Barry Pugh, Dan Toal, Andries Venter.

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