BARROW Raiders were unable to capitalise on a flying start as they became Rochdale Hornets’ first victims in the 2019 Betfred Championship as they suffered a 20-8 defeat at Spotland this afternoon.

The visitors stormed into an early lead after just four minutes when Papua New Guinean winger Stargroth Amean finished out wide. However, they could not make the most of any of the other opportunities they carved out until the closing stages.

In contrast, Rochdale were ruthless in punishing errors Barrow came up with and kept chipping away, with the consistent goal-kicking of ex-Raider Dan Abram helping them push the score out and seal their first win of the season.

The Raiders were under pressure from the opening set when Rochdale forced a drop-out from Stu Howarth’s high kick, but held firm and then turned to defence into attack by marching up field and scoring with their first possession after Jarrad Stack caught a kick from Lewis Charnock and offloaded to Amean for an unconverted try out wide on four minutes.

Barrow should have been further in front on the quarter-hour mark, only for skipper Martin Aspinwall to knock on while reaching out to get the ball down over the try-line following a good spell of pressure in Hornets territory.

At the other end, it was starting to look like it would take something special to unlock the Raiders defence and that came on 25 minutes when dual-registered Warrington Wolves prospect Harvey Livett offloaded to Salford Red Devils asset Adam Lawton, who spied a gap and powered through from 20 metres out to score.

Abram converted to put Rochdale in front and that proved enough to give the hosts a slender lead at half time as the closing 15 minutes continued in an end-to-end manner, with both teams unable to make another breakthrough in damp conditions which made handling difficult.

Just as the home side had done, Barrow forced a drop-out with the first set of the half and were then awarded a kickable penalty 20 metres out – only for Jamie Dallimore to put his attempt wide.

To compound matters, the returning Luke Cresswell then knock-on under a high ball deep in Raiders territory and the Hornets set up an attack which led to Ben Moores darting through for their second converted score in the 49th minute.

Abram slotted over a penalty from around 30 metres out in the 62nd minute, although Dallimore’s restart took everyone in the home defence by surprise and saw the visitors force another drop-out.

Again though, they were unable to make the most of it and when they were deemed to have knocked on first tackle after being awarded a penalty, Rochdale attacked from the scrum and this time it ended with Liam Carberry stepping on the gas to burst over for another converted try.

Barrow kept plugging away and finally got another reward for their efforts when Amean went over wide on the right for another unconverted score – Charnock’s conversion attempt hitting the posts – with eight minutes to go, but they could not make any further inroads.

Rochdale Hornets: Dan Abram; Shaun Ainscough, Jordan Case, Paddy Flynn, Brandon Wood; Stu Howarth, Tyler Whittaker; Sitaleki Akauola, Scott Moore, Matthew Davis, Lee Mitchell, Ellis Gillam, Harvey Livett. Interchange: Adam Lawton, Patrick Moran, Ben Moores, Liam Carberry.

Barrow Raiders: Luke Cresswell; Deon Cross, Jarrad Stack, Jake Spedding, Stargroth Amean; Jamie Dallimore, Lewis Charnock; Tom Walker, Wartovo Puara Jr, Josh Johnson, Jordan Walne, Jono Smith, Martin Aspinwall. Interchange: Nathan Mossop, Bradd Crellin, Willie Minoga, Glenn Riley.

Referee: Greg Dolan.