PERHAPS the greatest compliment paid to Barrow Raiders by any of their opponents so far this year has been the recognition of the fact this is a team which simply do not go away.

That was the case away to Leigh Centurions prior to yesterday, when the promotion hopefuls were pushed all the way, despite what the 28-point margin of victory for Leigh might suggest, and mentioned so to Raiders head coach Paul Crarey afterwards.

It was the same in yesterday's home Betfred Championship encounter with Batley Bulldogs, although this time it was the Barrow players who were walking off the field with two vital points in the bag after snatching a 20-18 victory from the jaws of defeat with under two minutes to play.

That the Raiders were still in the game at that point is a mark of the never-say-die mentality of this side, particularly given how – and Batley were guilty of this too, it must be noted – at times they failed to make the most of opportunities after advancing into the visitors' 20-metre zone.

No doubt the oppressive warmth of the Bank Holiday heatwave was a factor in that and in such situations, where passes start going astray, errors creep in and frustration can get the better of a team, it often requires individuals to come to the fore.

Several did just that for Barrow, notably Joe Bullock, who was at his rampaging best whenever he had the ball in hand, scoring a try and setting another one up. Hooker Dean Parata, perhaps relishing conditions more akin to those back home in Australia, was lively too and injected some dynamism into the home side's attacks.

But the man who grabbed all of the glory was none other than Ryan Johnston, who shimmied his way through the Batley defence from around 15 metres out as the seconds ticked down to grab his first Championship try and, more importantly, the game-tying score close to the posts to give half-back partner Jamie Dallimore a relatively simple conversion.

It must be remembered Johnston, who was back playing in the Barrow And District League for Dalton little more than a month ago, is still far from the finished product. But this offered another glimpse of his undoubted potential and underlined how he shows no fear in the face of hard-nosed opponents.

The only real downer for the Raiders was that their injury list continues to grow; Declan Hulme was forced off in the first half with a suspected fractured eye socket sustained in a collision and Glenn Riley left the field late on coughing up blood.

So that meant for the second week in a row, Crarey's side were having to play with limited options off the interchange bench, which in some ways makes the win even more impressive.

It was the opening 10 minutes which set the tone for the match though, with Barrow having a possible try from the returning Shane Toal ruled out for a forward pass and Batley then knocking on in the home side's 10 metres.

A penalty from Dallimore put Barrow's noses in front, but the Bulldogs hit back two minutes later after breaking the line when influential scrum-half Dom Brambani set up hooker Alistair Leak for the first of two tries, followed by Patch Walker converting.

The Raiders then failed to execute from several promising positions, but led 8-6 at the break when prop Bullock showcased the skillset which saw him start his career off as a winger, picking up the ball in his own half and powering through the Batley defence for a converted try on 37 minutes.

Batley were back ahead six minutes after the restart, with two penalties in quick succession seeing them camped deep in Raiders territory and eventually manage to force their way over from close range through Brambani for a second converted try.

The see-saw nature of the contest continued as Barrow hit back in the 51st minute and Bullock was again at the forefront, breaking the line and passing inside for Parata to score under the posts, followed by Dallimore converting.

Again though, Batley pulled ahead and this time it was as a result of the hosts being unable to stop their offloading game as Leak crashed over for his second, with Walker converting from out wide.

But Barrow hung on in there and worked one last attack which was finished by Johnston jinking through the defence, with the conversion proving enough to kick off this block of fixtures against sides around them in the Championship standings with a win.

Barrow Raiders: Ryan Fieldhouse 6; Shane Toal 7, Declan Hulme 6, Andy Litherland 7, Gene Ormsby 7; Jamie Dallimore 6, Ryan Johnston 7; Joe Bullock 8, Nathan Mossop 6, Alec Susino 7, Jono Smith 7, Jarrad Stack 7, Martin Aspinwall 7. Interchange: Dean Parata 8, Bradd Crellin 7, Danny Morrow 7, Glenn Riley 7.

Batley Bulldogs: David Scott; Shaun Ainscough, Daniel Cowling, Lewis Galbraith, Keenen Tomlinson; Patch Walker, Dom Brambani; Adam Gledhill, Alistair Leak, Alex Rowe, James Harrison, Bradley Day, Dane Manning. Interchange: Michael Ward, James Davey, Joseph Chandler, Alex Bretherton.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths.

Attendance: 1,211.

Playback: 10 – Dallimore pen (2-0); 12 – Scott try, Walker conv (2-6); 37 – Bullock try, Dallimore conv (8-6); 46 – Brambani try, Walker conv (8-12); 51 – Bullock try, Dallimore conv (14-12); 57 – Leak try, Walker conv (14-18); 78 – Johnston try, Dallimore conv (20-18).

Raiders star man: Joe Bullock: Scored a try and set another one up, along with striking terror into the Batley defence with some rampaging runs which gave Barrow plenty of go-forward.