PAUL Crarey has warned Barrow Raiders must have their wits about them if they are to back up winning the season-opener with victory at home to Sheffield Eagles this Sunday.

The Raiders head coach was delighted to see his side chalk up a rare victory away to Batley Bulldogs in their first Betfred Championship match of 2019, having failed to win on the road last year until September.

Coincidentally, that win came against this weekend’s opponents Sheffield, who have developed something of a rivalry with Barrow after the sides clashed five times in the league and Challenge Cup last year.

Familiarity has certainly not bred any contempt though, particularly with the Eagles winning 64-10 at home to Swinton Lions last Sunday, and Crarey expects a cagey game of strategy when Mark Aston’s side come to town.

“ We won the road on week one, so we’ve got the monkey off our back from last year and we’ve just got to push on,” said Crarey.

“The big test is to back it up against Sheffield because they play a different game; they handle playing short through the middle where we went short through the middle (against Batley).

“So it’ll be a bit of a chess game and it will be the smarter side who’ll come out on top. But it’s week one, to get two points on the board and to not be looking up the table is phenomenal.”

Crarey knows from his own experiences of playing at Mount Pleasant how key strong game management skills are and the Raiders showed those in abundance last week, particularly during the second half when they kept Batley scoreless.

The kicking game of Lewis Charnock, who scored a crucial try for the visitors in the second half too, played a role in keeping the home side at bay.

The scrum-half earned praise from the Barrow boss for his sterling work in defence too, particularly after suffering a knock in the first half of what was a hard-fought contest in the cold and rain.

“I’ve actually played at Batley and won there for Barrow and Whitehaven, and it’s about game management,” said Crarey.

“You’ve got to build pressure like they do, kick the ball well, kick-chase has got to be good, and at the end I thought we managed it really well. When we were flooding through the line, we were limiting them to 10 metres on a kick chase.

“I thought Lewis Charnock was a bit of an unsung hero on the right edge defensively and he took a bit of a knock early on, and we thought we’d lose him. But to pick himself up off the canvas and defend like he did, and play like he did, is phenomenal.”