GIVEN the injury situation in the squad at present, ‘Barrow Raiders player’ must be up there with ‘drummer for Spinal Tap’ on the list of the world’s most hazardous professions.

Things have got so bad that yesterday’s trip to Featherstone Rovers in the Betfred Championship saw Barrow travel with just a 15-man squad, with props Joe Bullock and Glenn Riley being ruled out, and Ryan Fieldhouse pulling out in the morning.

Such a parlous state of affairs likely has Raiders head coach Paul Crarey wondering whether he has run over a black cat or done something to anger the rugby league gods – not to mention the medical staff pondering installing a revolving door on the entrance to the treatment room.

With all of those circumstances, it is perhaps surprising the final score was not more lopsided than 52-4.

That is, however, a reflection of how hard the Raiders fought – maybe a little too hard, in the case of Ryan Duffy, who along with Featherstone’s Richard Moore was sin-binned following a melee early in the second half – from minute one to 80.

So it effectively became a damage limitation exercise for the Raiders and even among those who were available, Shane Toal started the game with his head bandaged up and had to leave the field in the closing minutes with blood pouring from the wound.

Even new signing Jonny Pownall, who joined on loan in the week from Toronto Wolfpack, was not able to escape the Raiders injury curse and suffered a slight quad problem. He would, however, have missed this Saturday’s game against his parent club anyway and is expected to return for the visit of Halifax.

Opponents Featherstone went into the game with injury problems of their own, not least with influential half-back Martyn Ridyard out owing to shoulder surgery.

And although Rovers are one of the Championship sides who make use of the dual-registration system, the problems with that came to the fore with the news they would be unable to field any of the players Leeds Rhinos have sent to them due to the Super League side’s own injury concerns.

Aside from the usual knocks and bruises though, Barrow emerged from this encounter relatively unscathed and tomorrow night’s training session will be a case of Crarey and his staff assessing who can get on the plane to Toronto later in the week.

As for the match itself, there were times Barrow showed glimpses of being able to compete on a level playing field with Featherstone and may well have made more of a game of it had they been able to rotate more from the bench and not play so many people out of position.

A promising start from a strong opening set which then lead to a repeat six tackles following a knock-on by Luke Briscoe showed that, but Rovers showed exactly why they are battling it out with the top sides through their ruthless streak on nine minutes, with Luke Cooper crashing over and Ian Hardman kicking the first of eight successful conversions following two repeat sets in Raiders territory.

Then veteran forward Gareth Hock pushed Rovers further ahead four minutes later, bursting through for a score moments after being held up over the line. That was followed on 19 minutes by John Davies sending Anthony Thackeray through as gaps started to open in the Barrow defence.

Winger Briscoe ghosted through the Raiders defence from around 70 metres out to score under the posts after taking the ball from a kick four minutes later and when Davies went from provider to scorer on 26 minutes it put Featherstone 30 points up.

To their immense credit though, Barrow worked their way back into the game, only to be denied by some stoic Rovers defence. Then during the period when Duffy and Moore were on the sidelines, they got on the board when Ryan Johnston dotted down a bouncing ball after Featherstone had failed to stop Jarrad Stack’s offload attempt.

Jamie Dallimore hitting the posts with his conversion attempt ensured that would be the Raiders’ only score though, and two tries from Josh Harcastle, Cooper’s second and another from Jason Walton took Featherstone past the half-century mark.

Barrow could at least walk away with their heads held high after the monumental effort they put in. If nothing else, the squad deserves some respite on the injury front for that alone.

Featherstone Rovers: Ian Hardman; Luke Briscoe, Misi Taulapapa, Jason Walton, Shaun Robinson; Anthony Thackeray, Matty Wilde; Scott Wheeldon, Keal Carlile, Luke Cooper, John Davies, James Lockwood, Gareth Hock. Interchange: Richard Moore, Josh Hardcastle, Sam Brooks, Brad Knowles.

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

Referee: Greg Dolan.

Sin-bin: Featherstone Rovers – Richard Moore (fighting, 46-56); Barrow Raiders – Ryan Duffy (fighting, 46-56)

Attendance: 1,880.

Playback: 9 – Cooper try, Hardman conv (18-0); 13 – Hock try, Hardman conv (12-0); 19 – Thackeray try, Hardman conv (18-0); 23 – Briscoe try, Hardman conv (24-0); 26 – Davies try, Hardman conv (30-0); 49 – Johnston try (30-4); 55 – Hardcastle try (34-4); 60 – Hardcastle try, Hardman conv (40-4); 70 – Cooper try, Hardman conv (46-4); 73 – Walton try, Hardman conv (52-4)

Raiders star man: Matty While: It seems unfair to pick out one player given the immense team effort, but this was another huge effort involving playing big minutes off the interchange bench for the back row prospect, who made some crucial tackles in defence as well.