Thursday, 28 April 2016

Sunday's Coming - Barrow

Barrow, this morning.

Sunday sees Hornets embark on a Bank Holiday Sunday trip down the UK’s longest cul-de-sac to Barrow.

Having seen his side go down 21-18 to 12 man Doncaster last week, Raiders coach Paul Crarey labelled his side’s approach as ‘amateurish’. In an attempt to rectify this, Crarey added former Barrow AFC strength and conditioner Paddy Maher to his backroom staff this week: “He will bring a wealth of experience and help to make us a lot more professional,” he said in the NW Evening Mail.

In a top eight where the margins look incredibly fine, Barrow sit 7th with three wins, a draw and a defeat from their five games.

Hornets face the Raiders:
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Since Hornets pulled off a gritty 4-14 iPro Cup win in monsoon conditions at Craven Park back in February, Barrow have flogged Hunslet in the league 40-6, battered a hapless North Wales 37-18, somehow drawn with Newcastle 24-all and whacked Coventry 0-36. All pretty good until they hit the buffers at Donny.

In an attempt to give his side a bit more creativity at Half-back, Crarey has added the peripatetic Jamie Dallimore at half-back. If he does for Barrow what he did for Oldham and North Wales, we won’t be complaining.

At a glance the Barrow squad is packed with quality local talent, augmented by some ‘imported’ players who clearly like a bit of a drive three times a week. Amongst those, the most eyecatching is Martin Aspinwall, who brings a top class pedigree and 15 years of experience. Having played 113 games for Wigan, 82 for Huddersfield, 19 for Castleford, 27 for Hull FC and 36 for Leigh, he’s currently three months into a one year deal at Barrow, with an option on a second. He’s got a bit of international experience too, In 2003, he played and scored a try for England A in a 22–26 defeat against Australia at Brentford’s Griffin Park and made a further two appearances against Wales and France in the 2003 European Nations Cup. He was represented Lancashire in the 2003 County of Origin match.

Hornets travel to Cumbria on the back of that rare rugby league commodity, a ‘massive’ draw - briging Toulouse’s juggernaut season to a shuddering halt at Spotland last week. In addition to maintaining our unbeeaten record, the result sent a message to the rest of the competition that Toulouse aren’t invincible if you get in their faces and don’t succumb to their dubious gamesmanship.

Taking dives in back-play and gang-hassling the officials are reprehensible enough tactics, but claims of gouging, biting and working the neck and head in tackles paints a picture of a side prepared to win at all costs. A poor advert for expansion, we thought.

Thankfully, Sunday will take us back to a proper blood and thunder contest against a good side with promotion aspirations in what is shaping up into another ultra-competitive season. It should be a cracker. And take a brolly just in case.