YESTERDAY was a perfect day for watching rugby league, although perhaps not so much playing it – and while the sun was out, there was still something of a cloud hanging over Craven Park.

The announcement from chairman David Sharpe last Thursday about the stark nature of the club's financial situation was at the forefront of the minds of many of those who came through the gates to watch Barrow Raiders take on Halifax.

On the positive side, the crowd of 1,293 – boosted by a strong travelling contingent from West Yorkshire – was just above the average attendance the board have budgeted for this year and all of the corporate boxes for the match had been sold.

The challenge now will be to maintain those numbers for the remaining regular-season home games against Toulouse Olympique and London Broncos, plus the three or four, depending on where Barrow finish in the table, to come once the division splits in two.

How both sets of players may, at times, have wished it was them watching from the sidelines though, with the combination of oppressive heat and a rock-hard playing surface making it extremely challenging conditions for those on the field.

In the end, Halifax emerged victorious after Raiders were left with too much of a mountain to climb at half-time when they trailed 30-10 and had Dan Toal in the sin-bin for disputing a decision from referee Liam Staveley.

The exertions of travelling to Featherstone Rovers and Toronto Wolfpack short-handed in recent weeks had clearly taken their toll on the Barrow squad, although they never threw the towel in and even threatened a fightback early in the second half after narrowing the deficit to eight points.

In the end though, Halifax proved insurmountable and kept their push for a top-four place on track – proving particularly dangerous on the counter-attack and at breaking the line thanks to the pace in their side.

The defeat came at a cost to Barrow as well, with Shane Toal – who scored two tries – suffering a dislocated knee and Danny Morrow being forced off as well. Not only that, but Matty While was playing through the pain barrier due to carrying an ankle injury.

There was an encouraging debut for loan signing Ryan Burroughs though, who was given the start at full-back but is likely to feature more in the three-quarters with Ryan Fieldhouse returning from suspension this week.

The match itself could have hardly got off to a more breathless start, with Jacob Fairbank putting Fax ahead just three minutes in after latching on to a bouncing ball from Johnston's kick to score a try converted by Steve Tyrer.

Barrow were level just two minutes later though as visiting full-back Kieran Moss left the ball to bounce from the restart, and it was soon snaffled by back row Toal to score close to the posts and leave Jamie Dallimore with a simple conversion.

But livewire scrum half Ben Johnston, who was at the centre of much of what Halifax did well with the ball in hand, jinked his way over to put the visitors back in front on 19 minutes and from that point on they never looked back.

A kind bounce of the ball allowed Scott Murrell to dive over four minutes later and that was followed in the 26th minute by Johnston sending Shaun Grady powering through a gap which had opened for him.

Barrow did respond through some good play on the half-hour mark, with Dallimore producing a superb cut-out pass to winger Toal for him to score his first try of the match after Jarrad Stack was halted just short.

But Chester Butler's converted try two minutes before the break put Halifax firmly in control. But they did wobble when Daniel Fleming was sin-binned early in the second half for a late hit on Dallimore, quickly followed by Toal scoring his second after diving over in the right corner and Ryan Johnston forcing his way over from close range in a promising spell for the hosts.

Moss racing in from around 50 metres after taking an offload in midfield for Halifax's only unconverted score of the day and a penalty from Tyrer settled any nerves though, with some gloss applied to the final score by prop Adam Tangata breaking from deep in his own half for a try and Johnston's second for the visitors.

Barrow Raiders: Ryan Burroughs 7; Shane Toal 8, Jarrad Stack 7, Tom Loxam 7, Jonny Pownall 6; Jamie Dallimore 7, Ryan Johnston 7; Joe Bullock 6, Nathan Mossop 6, Alec Susino 6, Jono Smith 7, Danny Morrow 6, Dan Toal 6. Interchange: Ryan Duffy 6, Dean Parata 7, Glenn Riley 7, Matty While 6.

Halifax: Kieran Moss; James Saltonsall, Steve Tyrer, James Woodburn Hall, Will Sharp; Scott Murrell, Ben Johnston; Adam Tangata, Ben Kaye, Jacob Fairbank, Chester Butler, Shane Grady, Simon Grix. Interchange: Will Maher, Brandon Moore, Daniel Fleming, Edward Barber.

Referee: Liam Staveley.

Sin-bin: Barrow Raiders – Dan Toal (40, dissent); Halifax – Daniel Fleming (44, late hit).

Attendance: 1,293.


THREE MINUTES: Fairbank try, Tyrer conversion, 0-6.

FIVE MINUTES: D Toal try, Dallimore conversion, 6-6.

19 MINUTES: B Johnston try, Tyrer conversion, 6-12.

23 MINUTES: Murrell try, Tyrer conversion, 6-18.

26 MINUTES: Grady try, Tyrer conversion, 6-24.

30 MINUTES: S Toal try, 10-24).

38 MINUTES: Butler try, Tyrer conversion, 10-30.

45 MINUTES: R Johnston try, Dallimore conversion, 16-30.

57 MINUTES: S Toal try, Dallimore conversion, 22-30.

62 MINUTES: Moss try, 22-34.

66 MINUTES: Tyrer penalty, 22-36.

72 MINUTES: Tangata try, Tyrer conversion, 22-42.

78 MINUTES: B Johnston try, Tyrer conversion, 22-48.


Shane Toal: Took both of his tries well and was always dangerous with the ball in hand before his participation was unfortunately curtailed due to injury.