“HERE I go with a handful of hope, over the hill and down the slope” – the chorus line from The Loft’s 1985 indie chart-topping single ‘Up the Hill and Down the Slope’.

That was the case for Barrow Raiders yesterday in the Betfred Championship season-opener, travelling over the Pennine hills to face Batley Bulldogs at Mount Pleasant on their sloping pitch.

The team and their supporters travelled in hope they could put to an end a run of eight straight defeats at the ground, and by the time the final hooter sounded that feeling of hope had been replaced with one of belief.

Belief because Barrow emerged 22-18 victors over an opponent they had not beaten on their own patch since 2001.

Not that Raiders head coach Paul Crarey will be allowing anyone to get too carried away – this was, after all, game one of 26.

But the manner in which his side held their nerve after conceding numerous penalties early on and having Jamie Dallimore sin-binned in the first half, to stay in touch with the home side at the break and then grind for the win, not to mention keep Batley scoreless, in the second half bodes well.

It seems harsh to pick out individuals after such a strong team performance, but off-season recruit Jake Spedding really came to the fore.

It was not just the fact he scored two first-half tries, but the manner in which he took them. On both occasions, he showed superb awareness; the first seeing him intercept in his own half and burn 80 metres up the hill and the second seeing the centre react quickest after Dallimore's kick had caught Batley winger Wayne Rettie flat-footed.

The Bulldogs had broken the deadlock through Sam Wood on six minutes, with Dave Scott kicking the first of three conversions, but Barrow turned defence into attack through Spedding six minutes later.

Defence was hallmark of the Raiders' performance throughout the day and they were unfortunate not to see out the period down to 12 men when Alistair Leak burrowed over from dummy-half just as Dallimore was set to return.

Again, Barrow responded – this time when fans' favourite Jono Smith forced his way over, only for a great piece of skill from Dom Brambani to unlock the visiting defence on 35 minutes for a try.

Spedding's second kept Barrow in the game at the break though and on 53 minutes, a one-on-one strip by Smith set in motion an attack which was finished by Lewis Charnock bursting through would-be tacklers to level the scores.

Dallimore converted to put Barrow ahead and added a penalty nine minutes later. Then it was down to some hard-nosed defence to seal the win.

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.

Sin-bin: Barrow Raiders – Jamie Dallimore (foul, 18).

Attendance: 755.

Playback: 6 – Wood try, Scott conv (6-0); 12 – Spedding try, Dallimore conv (6-6); 28 – Leak try, Scott conv (12-6); 31 – Smith try (12-10); 35 – Brambani try, Scott conv (18-10); 38 – Spedding try (18-14); 53 – Charnock try, Dallimore conv (18-20); 62 – Dallimore pen (18-22)

Raiders star man: Jake Spedding.