IT may seem strange to be talking about how well a team performed on the back of them suffering a 20-4 defeat in which they did not score any tries, but that is exactly the case for Barrow Raiders after yesterday's clash with Widnes Vikings.

As with any match between a part-time team and a full-time team in the Betfred Championship, few would have expected the home side to emerge victorious. In such an instance, the next-best outcome for supporters would be seeing their team put in an encouraging performance.

So while Raiders head coach Paul Crarey was naturally disappointed to suffer a loss, he was able to retain a positive outlook thanks to the display which saw them lead at half time having kept the Vikings scoreless during the first 40 minutes.

Playing with the wind at their backs in the first half and on a heavy pitch which nullified Widnes' speed advantage, the Raiders frustrated their opponents at nearly every turn during that time and led 4-0 courtesy of two penalties from Jamie Dallimore.

The stand-off's in-play kicking played an important role for Barrow too, with the variety of kicks from him and half-back partner Lewis Charnock keeping the Widnes defence on their toes and, in turn, allow the chasers to prevent the visitors making big yards on returns.

The Vikings possess their own dangers in that department too though, with kicks scrum-half Tom Gilmour leading to the quick scores which took them into a lead they would not surrender 11 minutes after the restart.

It was his deflected kick which led to them evening things up on their first set of the second half, with Barrow skipper Martin Aspinwall – hampered by a nasty cut above the eye which forced him off soon after and saw him taken to hospital – unable to defuse the danger as Danny Craven darted in to dot down.

Then Gilmour put in a superbly-executed 40/20 which led to former Askam youth player and Dowdales School alumnus Brad Walker – who else? – scoring an unconverted try against his hometown club.

Further tries from Ryan Ince, somehow squeezing over wide on the right, and Hep Cahill, who managed to twist over the line in a tackle to score, underlined the fine margins which the full-time sides can exploit and gave the scoreline a look which did not fully reflect the Raiders' efforts.

Indeed, they were unlucky not to get any tries of their own; Aspinwall had a first-half effort from a Charnock kick ruled out for offside and Deon Cross was just forced into touch in the second half on the back of a superb attack.

Little surprise then no-one was too downhearted at full time and there were plenty of encouraging individual displays too.

Luke Cresswell was lively again on his second game back from injury; Danny Morrow looked liked he had never been away on his first start of the year; Jordan Walne played a huge part in shoring up Barrow's middle and Jono Smith was his usual bustling self, earning the sponsors' man of the match prize on his 150th career appearance.

Yes, it was still a defeat, but one at least with plenty of encouraging signs coming out of it.

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

Widnes Vikings: Jack Owens; Ryan Ince, Anthony Gelling, Keenan Brand, Owen Buckley; Danny Craven, Thomas Gilmour; Hep Cahill, Jordan Johnstone, Harrison Hansen, Brad Walker, Sam Wilde, Macgraff Leulaui. Interchange: Jay Chapelhow, Ted Chapelhow, Owen Farnworth, Lloyd Roby.

Referee: James Child.

Attendance: 1,745.

Playback: 15 – Dallimore pen (2-0); 34 – Dallimore pen (4-0); 42 – Craven try, Gilmour conv (4-6); 49 – B Walker try (4-10); 67 – Ince try (4-14); 75 – Cahill try, Gilmour conv (4-20).

Raiders star man: Jordan Walne.