Thursday, 9 August 2018

Sunday's Coming: Barrow

And so it begins. The mathematics of the next seven weekends are brutally simple. Win three games more than Barrow and one game more than Swinton and we stay up.

Which makes Sunday’s trip to Craven Park the definitive ‘must-win’ game.

The question nagging everyone ahead of Sunday’s contest is: “Has Paul Crarey steadied the Barrow ship sufficiently to make the trip as awkward as it usually is?”

There’s little doubt that the last few weeks have been a car-crash for the Raiders club. Seven weeks without a win, an exodus of players, an injury list longer than their squad list

Off the field, Barrow’s cash-woes continue - a meeting last month revealing that a £50,000 directors' loan had kept the club’s head above water - but that a further £50,000 as needed to see them through the 2018 season.  A 100-grand shortfall? That’s some miscalculation somewhere,

The big news out of Barrow (that doesn’t entail injuries or financial problems) is that prop Joe Bullock will leave the club to join Wigan Warriors on a three-year contract from the start of 2019. The bad news is that he’s seeing out the 2018 season with the Raiders. Let’s hope he considers his physical wellbeing with his future in mind…

Having ended the regular season with an extensive injury list and a squad shored up by loanees, local amateurs and goodwill, coach Paul Crarey said in the NW Evening Mail last week: “We were a very solid group before, but we've broken all of that down with loanees, so the culture has changed a little bit.”

He then went on to confirm that Barrow had taken three Catalan Dragons reserve players on loan - Props Mendy Saloty and Arnaud Bartes and winger Georgy Gambaro. A culture-clash indeed.

In the debit column, Crarey lost Toronto loan utility back Jonny Pownall, who basically baled to go to Bradford without giving Barrow any notice whatsoever. Crarey only found out about the move when Toronto’s UK operations manager Martin Vickers called him and said that Pownall was ‘unwilling to remain with Barrow’.

As it was, a disrupted Barrow side were mercilessly flogged 72-6 at Craven Park by a ruthless London Broncos two weeks ago. Interestingly it was second consecutive 70 point home defeat after a similar pummelling from Toulouse. Our favourite stat: Barrow shipping 27 tries in two consecutive home games. Ouch!

Not untypically, Barrow’s respite couldn’t wait another week. Stand-off Lewis Charnock is in the frame for a return on Sunday as are Jarrad Stack, Declan Hulme and Jono Smith.

Talking to Total RL last week, Alan Kilshaw was in bullish mood about Hornets chances of staying up.

“Three or four wins and it’s a different beast altogether,” he said. “We can catch Barrow I think and we catch Dewsbury. We’ve to beat the teams around us and focus on us.”

Indeed for the next seven weeks, the league becomes an equation that Hornets have to resolve - and every point gained takes us closer to the right answer.

If you can get up to Barrow, we urge you to do so. It’s a tough place to put in a performance and every ounce of support we can muster will make a difference. Let’s do this.