IT certainly was not pretty, and at times it barely even resembled the game of rugby league, but all that really matters is Barrow Raiders gained a victory which saw the team take a huge step forward to securing their status in the Betfred Championship for next season.

The 17-10 win over Rochdale Hornets – coupled with Swinton Lions going down 40-7 away to Dewsbury Rams – took Barrow seven points clear of the bottom two after just one game of the Championship Shield Super Eights, ending a run of seven consecutive losses as well.

That it was not an 80 minutes which will live particularly long in the memory of anyone in attendance matters little. It was simply a case of job done, and it is likely to prove highly significant for both teams.

Given the importance of the outcome of the fixture to both Barrow and Rochdale, it should therefore have been no surprise the contest did not turn out to be a scintillating exhibition of open rugby.

Indeed, the first 40 minutes in particular proved particularly fractious, with the man getting the biggest work-out seemingly being referee Marcus Griffiths, repeatedly lifting his whistle to blow for 18 penalties – nine against each team – and innumerable scrums in that period alone.

Not to mention the various flare-ups which occurred between both sets of players as tempers occasionally frayed, but out of all of that it was Rochdale who were leading 4-0 at the break thanks to two penalties from Morgan Smith.

However, this was also a day made for men on the Barrow team like second-row powerhouses Jono Smith and Dan Toal – both of whom were back in the team after spells out due to injury, along with Jarrad Stack and Ryan Fieldhouse – and hard-charging Frenchman Arnaud Bartes, playing at loose forward.

It was Raiders forward Smith who got the team up and running with a converted try against his former club on the hour.

And while it was not a day where he was able to express himself with the ball in hand, Jamie Dallimore proved ever-reliable with the boot to land two conversions and two penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Yet from the opening minute, it was clear there was going to be no room for niceties when Joe Bullock was forced off barely 50 seconds into the match after taking a stray boot to the head, only to return and play on with a suspected fractured jaw.

In among all this, Hornets stand-off Smith had established a four-point lead for the visitors thanks to two penalties from 10 metres out by the 28th minute, while Barrow's attacks broke down through a lack of composure, particularly on last-tackle plays.

Back-row Smith went closest to scoring for them in the first half when he was held up over the line and then the home side's scrambling goal-line defence did its job three minutes into the second half when Rochdale's William Brickhill knocked on inches short.

Another Raiders attack broke down on 49 minutes when Bullock's offload, intended for Glenn Riley, was intercepted by Lewis Hatton, yet they were able to edge ahead after a high kick from Dallimore and a good chase had forced the Hornets to drop out under their posts.

Bartes took the ball up with a strong carry from the restart and it was Smith who finished for the converted score, running straight for the line and forcing his way through the defence after taking a pass from Nathan Mossop.

Dallimore showed good composure to kick a mid-range and then a long-range penalty to take Barrow six points clear, with half-back partner Ryan Johnston slotting over a drop-goal nine minutes from time.

Another route-one attack saw Susino power over for Barrow's second converted try on 77 minutes, and although Rochdale pulled a consolation try back through Deon Cross after recovering the ball from broken play, there was no time for them to attempt to mount a fightback.

Barrow Raiders: Ryan Fieldhouse 6; Brett Carter 7, Jarrad Stack 7, Ryan Burroughs 7, Tom Loxam 7; Jamie Dallimore 7, Ryan Johnston 6; Joe Bullock 7, Dean Parata 7, Alec Susino 7, Jono Smith 8, Dan Toal 7, Arnaud Bartes 8.

Interchange: Ryan Duffy 6, Martin Aspinwall 7, Glenn Riley 6, Nathan Mossop 7.

Rochdale Hornets: Declan Kay; Richard Lepori, Deon Cross, Setareki Talatoka, Rob Massam; Morgan Smith, Daniel Yates; Ryan Millington, William Brickhill, Patrick Moran, Luke Adamson, Lee Mitchell, Lewis Hatton.

Interchange: Miles Greenwood, Tyler Whittaker, Joe Ryan, Joe Taira.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths.

Sin-bin: Rochdale Hornets: Setareki Talatoka (high tackle, 25).

Attendance: 1,033.


11 MINUTES: M Smith penalty, 0-2.

28 MINUTES: M Smith penalty, 0-4.

60 MINUTES: J Smith try, Dallimore conversion, 6-4.

64 MINUTES: Dallimore penalty, 8-4.

66 MINUTES: Dallimore penalty, 10-4.

73 MINUTES: Johnston drop-goal, 11-4.

77 MINUTES: Susino try, Dallimore conversion, 17-4.

80 MINUTES: Cross try, M Smith conversion, 17-10.


Jono Smith: Looked like he had never been away, ran and tackled hard all match, and got the try which set Barrow on the way to an important victory.