This week Hornets make their way to the end of Britain's longest cul-de-sac, Barrow.
The Raiders find themselves in Rugby League's own backwater following the deduction of their entire 2011 season's points tally, having been found guilty of salary cap breaches and illegal player payments between 2007 and 2011. Or as we call it at TLCRF80mins Towers 'cheating'.
Having comitted a 'systemic breach' of RFL operational rules C.1.1.7 (failing to record in player contracts all financial benefits or benefits in kind that a player is receiving), C.1.1.11 (no club or club official shall loan money or goods or make payment or provide any benefit in kind to a player unless they are recorded in the player’s contract) and D1.8 (f) (misconduct by committing a breach of Championship salary cap Regulations), the former Billy Big Potatoes of the Championship finds itself slumming it in CC1.
And April's not been the best of months for Barrow - beaten twice in 15 days at Whitebank in twin league and cup defeats to Oldham. That's gotta hurt.
The Raiders sit just a point above Hornets in the league table with an inferior points difference. Having scored just a point fewer, Barrow have shipped 76 points in four league games - so indications of a leaky defence.
Having had a revolving door in the coach's office for the last few years, Barrow are currently coached by peripatetic Cumbrian half-back legend Darren Holt - who becomes their 10th coaching appointment in five years (three last season alone - and his predecessor Dave Clark on four separate occasions. Plus, in 2009, Steve Deakin for six whole weeks. We know how that goes…).
We digress… the new boss agrees his side have a few issues when they don't have the ball. After their cup exit against Oldham he said: “There were too many people who went missing in the second half, physically, in defence and that is something that is going to have to be looked at unfortunately… I thought our right-hand side defence defended very well and most of their tries came on the left-hand side, which has to be looked at."
In addition to the wily Holt, Barrow's is a squad built around home-grown Cumbrian talent - the stand-out thus far in 2012 has been former Ulverston amateur Daniel Toal who's been getting rave reviews at loose forward. Supplementing Barrow's 'shop local' policy is Welsh international forward Andy Bracek. In addition to his 7 Caps for Wales, he has Super League experience with St Helens, Warrington and Crusaders. An interesting inclusion in the squad is Andries Venter, a South African Ex-*nion prop who arrived via Kendal - so a Cumbrian by association.
There's no doubting that this Barrow side looks like a Cumbrian Rep team, and with Holt at the helm will be a tough proposition on home turf. But Craven Park has been a graveyard for too long for Hornets and we're long overdue a win.
See you there.