Barrow Raiders 24 North Wales Crusaders 16

The result was never really in doubt at a sleepy Craven Park as Barrow Raiders picked up their first win of pre-season, albeit in slightly laboured fashion, against North Wales Crusaders.

The Raiders were up against one of the teams they will be facing in trying to climb out of Betfred League One this season and it is hard to tell how much they will take from a friendly that lacked intensity.

There’s an argument that Barrow actually played better in defeat against Oldham the previous week, but there were still some highlights, the pick being a lovely move that led to a try for Tee Ritson in the first half.

However, there will be some frustration that there is now a blank weekend coming up before the final warm-up against old rivals Workington Town on January 25, as there is clearly plenty of work that still needs to go in.

Captain Jarrad Stack got on the end of a testing high kick by Ryan Johnston deep into North Wales’ territory off the Raiders’ first attack, but couldn’t quite get his off-load away.

Barrow’s early dominance was rewarded by an opening try after eight minutes when their two props combined, as Carl Forster moved the ball right to Ryan Duffy, who managed to bundle his way over.

The Crusaders hit back from their first threatening attack in the 20th minute when the ball went through the hands of Jack Holmes and Earl Hurst before winger Rob Massam did well to finish down the left.

Elliott Jenkins’ missed conversion meant Barrow were still 6-4 ahead, but that gap widened with a well-worked score down the left wing. Jono Smith put Perry Singleton through a gap and the centre timed his pass to put Ritson in the clear, which allowed him to run in towards the post, giving Jamie Dallimore a simple goal.

The Raiders soon had their third try when Ryan Johnston’s lovely flick gave Dan Toal a comfortable finish from a few metres out, with Dallimore’s conversion moving the score on to 18-4.

Another score almost followed from the next set, with Dallimore’s long pass finding Adam Ford off the last tackle, but he couldn’t force his way through, prompting a handover.

Barrow managed to get the scoreboard ticking again after 53 minutes when Joe Crarey spotted a gap after Duffy had been tackled and ran through unopposed to score, with Dallimore converting again.

There was still a low-key feel about the afternoon, but the crowd was woken up by a cheap shot from Hurst on Ritson that he was lucky not to be sin binned for.

The Crusaders then pulled a try back after 64 minutes when Jenkins’ grubber under the posts was chased down by Jordan Gibson, who grounded the ball and Johnson added the goal.

Barrow drifted through the closing stages and they conceded again with four minutes left when Holmes slipped through a couple of tackles to go clear after being picked out by Brad Brennan.

Barrow Raiders: Cresswell, S Toal, Hulme, Singleton, Ritson, Dallimore, Johnston, Duffy, Crarey, Forster, Smith, Stack, Emslie.

Interchange: Carter, Tyson, Ford, D Toal, Terrill, Saunders, McBain, Hopkins.

Tries: Duffy 8, Ritson 24, D Toal 28, Crarey 53

Goals: Dallimore (4)

North Wales Crusaders: Holmes, Ecclestone, Penny, Hurst, Massam, Roper, Jenkins, Brennan, Gibson, Thompson, Sherratt, Rodden, Barratt.

Interchange: Johnson, Cottington, Ryan, Tilley, Brady, Millington.

Tries: Massam 20, Gibson 64, Holmes 76

Goals: Johnson (2)

Referee: Gareth Hewer

Attendance: 835