FOR nearly 20 minutes, it was all so sweet for Barrow Raiders.

Unfortunately, Toronto Wolfpack then woke from their slumber and from that point on the outcome seemed all but a foregone conclusion.

In fairness though, a 52-26 defeat to the full-time Betfred Championship leaders, whose budget far exceeds that of the Raiders, is no disgrace – not least because those are the sort of scores Toronto have been running up recently.

And for the second game in a row against one of the division’s high-flyers, Barrow showed some scintillating attacking play right to the end, finishing with a flourish after the Wolfpack’s Oisi Krasniqi had been sin-binned for dangerous contact on 71 minutes.

The difference between this and the Leigh Centurions game was the start the home side made though, thrilling the 1,400-plus crowd in attendance by going 12-0 up inside the first 12 minutes and having many daring to dream of causing a shock.

Those two tries, both of which were converted by Lewis Charnock – playing at loose forward again – were a combination of brute force and beauty. The first came when Josh Johnson burrowed his way through three Wolfpack defenders to score under the posts after the visitors had wasted possession in their own 20-metre area from a scrum, and the second saw Deon Cross latch onto an offload from Wartovo Puara Jr and break from halfway.

Even when not quite at their best though, Toronto are a side who can put teams to the sword given half a chance and that ruthless nature came to the fore to see them lead 28-12 at half time.

Three penalties conceded by the hosts led to three tries which put the Canadians into a lead they did not surrender, with half-back Blake Wallace – who kicked eight of nine conversion attempts – and full-back Gareth O’Brien both showing their finishing prowess with hat-tricks.

Matty Russell’s burst from 50 metres early in the second half, plus single tries from Andrew Dixon and Andy Ackers took the game beyond Barrow, although Jarrad Stack’s finish out wide showed the Raiders’ determination to keep going.

Much of the good work the Raiders did in attack came from the back three of Luke Cresswell, Stargroth Amean and Tee Ritson, so it was fitting the latter two got on the scoresheet when the away side were a man down.

Ritson’s try in particular, coming after Papua New Guinean duo Puara and Amean had combined with rampaging runs, was a joy to behold. The challenge now is to keep this going on a quick turnaround when the team head to Bradford Bulls on Easter Monday.

Barrow Raiders: Luke Cresswell; Tee Ritson, Deon Cross, Jake Spedding, Stargroth Amean; Jamie Dallimore, Ryan Johnston; Josh Johnson, Wartovo Puara Jr, Jordan Walne, Danny Morrow, Jarrad Stack, Lewis Charnock. Interchange: Nathan Mossop, Glenn Riley, Alec Susino, Bradd Crellin.

Toronto Wolfpack: Gareth O’Brien; Ryan Brierley, Hakim Miloudi, Ricky Leutele, Matty Russell; Blake Wallace, Josh McCrone; Adam Sidlow, Andy Ackers, Ashton Sims, Andrew Dixon, Tom Olbison, Jon Wilkin. Interchange: Bob Beswick, Darcy Lussick, Anthony Mullally, Oisi Krasniqi.

Referee: Billy Pearson.

Sin-bin: Toronto Wolfpack – Oisi Krasniqi (72).

Attendance: 1,417.

Playback: 6 – Johnson try, Charnock conv (6-0); 12 – Cross try, Charnock conv (12-0); 17 – Wallace try and conv (12-6); 21 – O’Brien try (12-10); 24 – Wallace try and conv (12-16); 28 – O’Brien try, Wallace conv (12-22); 40 – Wallace try and conv (12-28); 41 – O’Brien try, Wallace conv (12-34); 52 – Russell try, Wallace conv (12-40); 57 – Stack try (16-40); 61 – Dixon try, Wallace conv (16-46); 65 – Ackers try, Wallace conv (16-52); 73 – Amean try (20-52); 78 – Ritson try, Charnock conv (26-52).

Raiders star man: Luke Cresswell.