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Sunday, 24 May 2015

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Raiders rally to thrash Thunder: with video and pictures

  • Barrow Raiders v Gateshead Thunder Highlights Click Here



WELCOME to the Dan Toal Show ladies and gentlemen, with today’s special guest, Liam Campbell.

Another afternoon at Craven Park and another performance to prove the impact Toal has made on Barrow Raiders this season.

On a day when Campbell scored a hat-trick, the half-back played second fiddle to a man who matched his feat and continued to show great promise and ability.

Plucked from the amateur game in the off-season, to widespread shrugs from those who had never seen the Ulverston loose forward in action, the 22-year-old Toal has been a revelation.

His displays have astounded spectators as he has belied his small stature – as one Raiders fan suggested, he is surely the smallest number 13 in the league – and once more against Gateshead he revived a Raiders team seemingly dead on their feet with a hat-trick of the highest order to drag them from the brink of an embarrassing defeat to a conclusive victory.

After a dry spell – a drought by his standards – of no tries in his last three games, Toal once more showed his scoring touch with his first Barrow hat-trick to take his season’s tally to nine, a feat matched on the day by Campbell, whose performance on any other day would have grabbed the headlines.

His first – eight minutes into the game and after Matt Barron had put Thunder ahead thanks to a neat short pass from Sam Walsh – was all about his strength.

Bigger than he looks, but my no means a giant in the pack – or anywhere on the field for that matter – Toal took a Scott Kaighan pass at an angle near the posts and pulled three Gateshead men with him as he powered over the line.

He even ground the ball while being rolled on to his back, his scoring instinct shining through and astounding anyone watching once again.

Chances went begging for other Barrow players as the first half dragged on and Thunder went into the lead once more thanks to Tom Hodgson, who caught both James Gordon and Kaighan napping on the line to touchdown from dummy half a yard out.

They deserved to increase their lead before the break, but instead Toal popped up to draw the sides level, his neat little break 40 metres out laying the groundwork for Campbell to score his first.

The half-back added his second five minutes into a second half which was much-improved from the home side, a neat shoulder drop fooling the Gateshead defence and allowing him his own sixth of the campaign.

After the brief interlude, it was back to the Dan Toal show, the star of the afternoon’s proceedings being the first man there to support a fine break downfield by Andy Ballard, who started off trying to clear his own line and ended up on one of his fine breaks.

Toal obviously wasn’t happy with running 90 metres to score when he only had the ball for half that distance and so on the hour-mark, he decided to do it all himself.

Taking the ball from the base of the scrum, and always alive to a possibility, he broke through a flat-footed Thunder line and streaked away.

Hodgson looked to be catching him as he crossed halfway, but Toal found a second wind, eluding his pursuer and diving between the sticks for his first hat-trick in the pro game.

His job more than done, Toal exited stage left and headed for a well-deserved rest, the special guest on this particular afternoon taking over his duties as Campbell scored a third of his own.

If Toal had shown a mastery of the long-range effort, once again Campbell showed his ability to score from close in, taking the ball from a scrum 10 metres out, going this way and that and walking through a gap in a befuddled defence.

Two hat-tricks for two Barrow players in the same game – never mind a Good Friday, this was turning into a great one.

There was time for Aaron Low, back from injury and among a raft of changes in the Barrow team, to play a little cameo as he got on the end of swift hands involving Kaighan, Campbell and Ballard and took the ball at pace 10 yards out before sliding over the line.

His was a bit part though on an afternoon when Toal once again showed just why Darren Holt and Phil Atkinson were so keen to sign him in the winter.

There is nothing amateur about this new professional and if he keeps on playing – and scoring – like this, he can go a long way in the game indeed.


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