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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

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Barrow Raiders miss out on Grand Final glory with video and pictures

BARROW Raiders missed out on Championship One Grand Final glory as Doncaster completed the double in Warrington.



IT was once more a case of what might have been.

Just as Barrow Raiders saw their Championship One title hopes disappear on the wind with a late run of away defeats, so they saw the Grand Final prove equally elusive.

The same team who had denied them top spot in the league were again the villains of the piece in Warrington as Doncaster produced one more great day at the office to add to their trophy haul.

As they have all too often in the latter stages of the season, errors at crucial times proved costly for Barrow.

Many have said they were the better team for 75 per cent of the campaign, but fell away when it mattered, here they were the dominant attacking team for 75 per cent of the match, but failed to make the most of their opportunities.

It is an all too familiar tale, one where guts and determination are sometimes not enough, one where 100 per cent effort and commitment to the cause were matched by opponents who had just that little bit extra where it counted.

It was in those final 10 yards that Doncaster had the killer edge, the ability to break through and score, while Barrow lacked the final push, the little bit extra to take them over the line.

This was a match between two teams who have battled it out for the whole season at the top of the Championship One pile, who have had nothing to separate them for seven months, why would it be different come the final day, the final reckoning?

Barrow came out firing, tackling like demons, running as if their very existence depended upon them reaching the ball, crossing the try-line before Doncaster. A knock-on by Tom Hodson from the first play had their massed ranks on the terraces – warriors themselves in blue and white, outnumbering their South Yorkshire foes at least four-to-one – in full voice.

But the chance near the line went, a low pass from Liam Campbell landing at the feet of captain Liam Harrison as a gap opened. Symptomatic, it would turn out of a problem that afflicted them for near the full 80 minutes.

When they did spark properly in attack it was a joy to watch, the first try a product of fast hands, sharp minds and quick feet, the latter from Chris Larkin taking him over the whitewash from five yards out after a gem of a pass from Andy Ballard.

Yet still the old problems remained. Doncaster were gifted four sets back-to-back in the Barrow half – an offside penalty here, a knock-on there allowing the Dons into the red zone.

They would not be half as profligate as their opponents on this grey, wet afternoon and the fourth set yielded gold, Stewart Sanderson put through as the Raiders defence fell over themselves in the scramble, the scores level at 4-4.

The attacks kept on coming from both sides, the best frequently from Barrow, denied on numerous occasions by the best defence they have come up against all season.

Nothing could breach the Doncaster line when they had their backs to the wall, not a bullocking run from Harrison, nor a similar effort from huge pack man Ryan Duffy, who when he did cross the line was called back for a forward pass.

That would not be the last time such decisions cost Barrow points, though it was Doncaster denied by the rule a minute later as Sanderson thought Kyle Kesik had put him in for a second.

It was a player, rather than an official, who stopped Lucas Walshaw, Aaron Low tapping the big man’s ankles and allowing Jamie Butler to wrap him up near the line and stop the South Yorkshire side edging ahead.

It was close, so close Ballard kicked a penalty when Finch was fouled near the sticks, a 6-4 lead not to be sniffed at.

More points refused to come as an engrossing half wore on.

Dan Toal broke magnificently through the middle and miraculously offloaded the ball to Campbell, but his charge was stopped, as was Carl Hughes’s when Harrison dragged him to terra firma when the line beckoned.

The game continued in this seesaw manner, the clock winding down towards the conclusion of the first 40 minutes when Scott Kaighan spotted his moment and cleverly dropped a goal from 20 yards out on the last play of the half. How crucial would that point be.

Refreshed and reinvigorated, the sides re-emerged into the Warrington drizzle for a second half that would define both their seasons.

It was Barrow starting the brighter, camped permanently in the Doncaster half, Campbell thinking he had put Harrison in with a short pass. he had not.

Errors were flowing from Doncaster, three times they knocked on in their own half, yet the rewards on offer for Barrow were not taken. Larkin came close to a second and forced another set with a neat grubber that Sanderson knocked on, then Ballard looked to have put Nixon in.

The winger, so rarely used through the 80 minutes, wastefully so, took it wide and cut back inside, weaving his way to the line and twisting in the tackle. The ball hit the ground, Nixon cheered, his team-mates dived on top.

Everyone in blue and white called try. Referee Jamie Leahy was not so sure and up the decision went to the video box, where Ian Smith said the Dalton flier had lost control before it hit the ground.

No video referee and it was a try. But this was a TV match, Barrow’s first of the year and an important score was gone.

It got so much worse as Doncaster scored immediately. Walshaw broke down the right and drew Campbell, the half-back lost in no-man’s land and leaving a huge gap which Lee Waterman was able to glide through and make for the line. Hodson kicked the goal and now it was Doncaster ahead for the first time at 10-7.

Barrow came back again, a superb tackle from Ballard dislodging the ball from Nathan Powley’s grasp and setting the platform for four sets in the Doncaster half.

Whereas the Dons had used a similar situation perfectly in the first half, there was nothing gained by the Raiders, scrums, drop-outs and pressure dissipating as Kaighan and Toal were done for crossing, the latter used as a blocker for the former.

Now Doncaster landed what was to be the knockout blow, attacking for the first time since they scored and going in again, Craig Fawcett rolling through a Martin Ostler tackle on the line to score.

There was still 23 minutes on the clock, but as Barrow had done to Doncaster two weeks ago in the semi-final, so the Dons would do to the Raiders now as they held their line.

Nixon was in wide open space and Ballard did not pick him out, Duffy knocked on as he headed for the line, Harrison had a third Barrow try chalked off, again for a forward pass and a fourth followed from the video referee – this one obvious as Lee Haney palmed a ball down forward for Larkin to ground.

Doncaster were all nerves when they had the ball, knocking on several times deep in their own territory, but nothing came of it for Barrow, Duffy and Kaighan losing the ball at key moments.

The effort was still there and that at least was rewarded as Low was put through a gap wide on the left and scored with just over three minutes to go.

With little time left the gap was now just three points. Surely Barrow could not steal it? No, they could not.

A penalty against Campbell and Duffy for obstruction surrendered the last chance Raiders had and the clock ticked down to Doncaster’s triumph.

What if Nixon had scored early in the second half? What if the passes to Harrison and Duffy had been a fraction further back? What if there was no video referee?

What if? What if? What if?

Have your say

"Some of the so called raiders fans were embarrassing yesterday. "........ totally agree. In particular a group of 6 lads (late teens early 20's) with a very young child, swearing and general foul language , throwing beer about, as well as the kid, chucking food about and finding it so funny when spoken to and claiming to be rugby supporters....... a total disgrace to Barrow Rugby. As Eagles supporters trying our bit to encourage Raiders (not our local rivals) we found their behaviour far from fit for a family orientated spectator sport. The rest of the Raiders support was the normal passionate and great thing we expect and see. I am sorry it had to be said but it is louts like these who give teams a bad name.

Posted by Eagleraider on 3 October 2012 at 10:41

so the rugby fans now know all about the glory seeking public,afc have had it plenty of times wembley,sunderland (etc) & same with the ref`s barrow have really no chance of survival at the top of rugby or soccer,as the glory seekers will not turn up it`s not enough for the regular fans to turn uo every home game as the would`nt survive,as for the ref`s in something is`nt done soon it`ll get worse for both teams,so raiders fans welcome to the real world

Posted by paul on 2 October 2012 at 14:14

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