IT was a much-improved performance from Barrow Raiders against Whitehaven, and we included our three PNG stars with hooker Wartovo Puara named sponsors man of the match, writes Raiders Review columnist Tony Colyer.

Initial thoughts are positive, but I suspect it will be some time before we see them at their best.

Lewis Charnock’s break and the pass to new full-back Tee Ritson to score from 30 metres out was the highlight but, as head coach Paul Crarey stated post-match, it is still work in progress.

Which, after watching the first two games, I’m sure the supporters agree with.

Most of the squad have had some game-time, apart from injured players like Nathan Mossop, Jarrad Stack, Luke Cresswell Gareth Hock, and Shane and Dan Toal. It is hoped that they can get back as soon as possible to inject a bit more experience.

So, early days, but not long to reach peak form as the season starts next week with one of the most difficult away games at Batley Bulldogs on their slope.

I watched the highlights of Batley’s battle with Bradford Bulls in the Yorkshire Cup final. A great game saw the Bulls edge it 14-12, but Batley were very unlucky and many neutrals thought they should have won. They were very physical as usual, and they sent a strong message to every Championship club that visiting Mount Pleasant will be as tough as ever.

An opportunity to get ready for the trip is before us this afternoon with our final friendly against Super League champions Wigan Warriors. This came about as part of the deal to transfer Joe Bullock to Wigan, but ironically Joe was not named in the Warriors squad which suggests that his recent good performances have earned him a place in their Super League opener against St Helens.

Great news for Joe but it would have been a bonus to see him in a Wigan shirt playing against his former team mates.

However, we can look forward to seeing some stars such as Morgan Escare, Jarrod Sammut, Liam Marshall and Taulima Tautai. There is special interest in seeing ex-Raiders favourite Chris Hankinson and local lad Liam Paisley too.

It’s Wigan’s first visit since the epic Challenge Cup tie back in 2009 when we should have won in front of 7,000 spectators. I remember the large Wigan contingent applauding Barrow off the pitch which was a credit to them and hopefully there will be good travelling support today.

If not, they can watch on Wigan TV which will broadcast live from Craven Park with Sean O’Loughlin providing his insight as co-commentator.

It should be a great occasion this afternoon, and hopefully the Barrow public will turn up in their numbers to make it a great atmosphere and improve the club’s bank balance.