Friday, 1 March 2019

Sunday's Coming: Barrow

We don't know if someone at Barrow won the lottery, but Paul Crarey's pre-season recruitment had the hallmark of some serious investment. Crarey added Deon Cross, Jake Spedding and Tee Ritson alongside Papua New Guinean trio Stargroth Amean, Wartovo Puara Jr and Willie Minoga. The three PNG guys all sign from Queensland Cup side SP Hunters. Crarey also added ex-Super League forwards Jordan Walne (Salford/Hull KR) and Josh Johnson (Huddersfield). Oh, and Gareth Hock.

Barrow come to Spotland on the back of two interesting results. Last week's 20-all draw with Dewsbury came after the raiders led 14-8 in the second half, but needed a late Ryan Johnson try and Lewis Charnock conversion to snatch a point after Dewsbury had chased them down. The other eye-catcher came the week before when Barrow were roundly thumped 56-nil at the RFL's current darlings York.

Barrow's only win this year came on the opening day at Batley. No mean feat: but the Raiders seem to have been hit with a wave of early early injuries

Not only has Crarey been missing Dan & Shane Toal and Luke Creswell, gun Cumbrian fullback Tee Ritson has joined Ryan Duffy, Declan Hulme and Gareth Hock on the long-term injury list. Hock busted a shoulder in the second round of a charity boxing bout back in December and faces a four month absence after recent surgery. He is yet to start a game for Barrow.

Jamie Dallimore, though, is available again having sat out the last two games with a suspension for Dangerous Contact. Not bad - even by his own low disciplinary standards - just four games into a new season.

Speaking in the NW Evening Mail after last week's draw, Paul Crarey was mindful that, whilst his side were really good in the first half, they were guilty of trying too hard: “The first half, I thought we were really good," he said, "... and we came out in the second half and I think we tried too hard at times."

Was it, we wondered, a matter of composure and control? Crarey again: “We tried to force the ball towards the back end of the game when we needed composure and a couple of things let us down. We were in control, we lost control and then at the end it was just a free-for-all where everyone was trying to drop a goal from 20 or 30 metres out.

“You could feel the tension before the game after what happened last week and confidence would have been a bit low, but it was a point salvaged at the end.”

Hornets come into the game on the back of a patchy, but promising performance at Batley - unlucky in the end to go down 18-12 in a game where neither side really hit their straps.

Like last week, Sunday's game is another opportunity to take something from another team in the Betfred Championship League Within A League.

But you know what you're going to get with Barrow: a big pack grinding you backwards, robust, rangy three quarters and persistent pace up the edges (augmented this year by the addition of Deon Cross). And, of course, you get Jamie Dallimore irritating the life out of you. They compel you to win your individual battles right across the park - so you have to be switched on for the full 80 minutes.

Generally speaking, Hornets v Barrow contests tend to go with home advantage, so a great chance to get 2019 up and running - and with Swinton at Halifax, a good chance to steal a march on the Lions.

See you there.