TWO tries from Jake Spedding on his competitive debut for Barrow Raiders helped his new club get the 2019 Betfred Championship season off to the perfect start as they won 22-18 away to Batley Bulldogs.

Centre Spedding ran in both of his tries in the first half, including one just before the interval which saw them trailing 18-14.

A solitary converted try from Lewis Charnock and a penalty from Jamie Dallimore then proved enough for the visitors to hold on for the victory, with some sound defence and smart game-management seeing them prevent Batley from registering a single point in the second half

Josh Johnson, signed last Wednesday, went straight into the starting 13 for his Raiders bow and he was one of eight players involved in their first competitive outing for the club either as a starter or from the interchange bench.

The visitors made a positive start, but soon found themselves fall victim to referee Michael Mannifield’s rigorous interpretations of the Laws – particularly concerning ripping the ball in the tackle and at the play-the-ball.

This allowed Batley to build pressure and, despite some ferocious defence, the Bulldogs broke the deadlock on six minutes when Sam Wood went over from close range after Dom Brambani had been stopped just short, followed by Dave Scott converting.

Barrow hit back six minutes later though and it was thanks to Spedding when he shot out of the line to intercept a pass and powered 80 metres up the Mount Pleasant slope for a try converted by Jamie Dallimore.

However, Dallimore found himself watching from the sidelines for a spell after being sin-binned for an offence at the ruck by Mr Mannifield and Barrow almost managed to hold out during those 10 minutes, only for Batley hooker Alistair Leak to scoot from dummy-half to score another try converted by Scott after Adam Gledhill had been halted just inches from the line.

A knock-on in the first set after the restart gave Barrow a superb position to attack from though and they made the most of it by setting up a move which ended with Jono Smith forcing his way through for an unconverted try despite close attention from several defenders.

Another penalty allowed the hosts to turn the screw though and a superb piece of individual skill from scrum-half Brambani saw him find a gap and dash through from 20 metres out to score five minutes before the break, followed by Scott converting again.

But Spedding once again showed great alertness to score his second try on 38 minutes, reacting quickest to a kick from Dallimore which deceived Batley winger Wayne Rettie and dotting down wide on the right to ensure the away side trailed by just four points at half time.

The match carried on in the same breathless manner as the first 40 minutes when play resumed and Barrow – playing down the hill this time – were the first to score when Smith won the ball with a one-on-one strip 30 metres out, setting in motion an attack which was finished by Lewis Charnock out-muscling the Batley defence for a try.

Half-back partner Dallimore added the conversion to put the Raiders two points up with 53 minutes played and added another two points nine minutes later after Batley had given away a penalty for a high tackle 30 metres from goal.

It was then defence to the fore as Barrow kept the Bulldogs at bay and held out for a memorable away success.

Batley Bulldogs: David Scott; Wayne Rettie, Sam Wood, Lewis Galbraith, Jonathon Campbell; Louis Jouffret, Dom Brambani; Adam Gledhill, Alistair Leak, Toby Everett, Dane Manning, Jack Downs, Tyler Dickinson. Interchange: James Brown, Jovilisi Taira, Michael Ward, Keenan Tomlinson.

Barrow Raiders: Tee Ritson; Stargroth Amean, Deon Cross, Jake Spedding, Tom Loxam; Jamie Dallimore, Lewis Charnock; Tom Walker, Wartovo Puara Jr, Josh Johnson, Jono Smith, Jordan Walne, Martin Aspinwall. Interchange: Ryan Johnston, Jarrad Stack, Willie Minoga, Ryan Duffy.

Referee: Michael Mannifield.