BARROW RAIDERS 28 KEIGHLEY COUGARS 6
BRILLIANT Barrow Raiders stand just 80 minutes away from a League One Cup final appearance in Blackpool after comprehensively beating Keighley Cougars at Craven Park on Sunday.
Tremendous defence, coupled with at times, exciting play, and a determined will to succeed earned them a spot in the last four and the plaudits from the fans.
Raiders coach Paul Crarey is hoping for a home draw and is looking to see his side keep the momentum going especially for their League One derby against visiting Workington next Saturday.
But cup action was foremost on Barrow’s mind on Sunday and Crarey will have been delighted to see his side make it a hat-trick of wins over their Yorkshire rivals, who, despite the defeat, became the first team to breach Barrow’s defence after 291 minutes of resolute play when Adam Brook scored near the posts.
That was their only score though as Barrow wrapped up the win when Andy Litherland scored in the corner and Lewis Charnock rubbed salt into the Keighley wound sending his penalty between the sticks on the hooter.
The ever improving Luke Cresswell opened Barrow’s account in the second minute with further tries coming from Jamie Dallimore, Ryan Fieldhouse, Declan Hulme and Litherland, with Charnock kicking four goals.
Bubbling Barrow opened in determined fashion when winger Cresswell was on the end of a Fieldhouse pass to force his way over in the corner.
They soon increased their lead as the ever-alert Dallimore scooped up Charnock’s dab forward to go in under the posts leaving his half-back partner an easy conversion.
But a gritty Keighley refused to throw in the towel as they tried to force their way back into the reckoning, and they twice tested the Raiders defence on the left.
Shane Toal, however, was up to the challenge, firstly making a terrific try-saving tackle and then plucking a dangerous high ball out of the air to keep his side’s incredible home record of not conceding a try in 2017 intact.
As the arm wrestle continued Dallimore thought he had gone over for a second try but a double movement was ruled.
Dan Toal was then uncerimoniously dumped in front of the sticks and Charnock duly obliged with the resulting penalty.
The clock ticked down to the interval but there was enough time for Barrow to explode into action again with Fieldhouse finishing off in style after some great flowing play.
Barrow didn’t have to wait long before extending their lead, stretching further ahead soon into the second half when Jarrad Stack released Hulme 30 yards out, and he skirted around the Keighley defence to score with Charnock adding the extras.
But the Raiders were down to 12 men moments later when Dan Toal was shown yellow for a professional foul.
Barrow’s incredible defence was finally breached through Brook with Matthew Beharrell adding the goal.
Andy Litherland then thought he had extended Barrow’s lead midway through the half when he went over but his attempt was ruled out after it was judged he was tackled before scoring the try.
Keighley came back and pressed the Raiders line with Vinny Finnigan looking to add to their tally, but Cresswell made an astonishing tackle to deny the winger.
Fieldhouse had to leave the field for treatment to a head injury as Barrow refused to yield under Keighley pressure, summoning up enough energy for a final assault on the Keighley defence as Litherland added to the visitors’ woes with a try in the corner with Charnock kicking a penalty to wrap up a great win.
Catch Crarey’s views of the game on the Raiders Facebook page.
BARROW RAIDERS: Ryan Fieldhouse, Shane Toal, Declan Hulme, Andy Litherland, Luke Cresswell, Jamie Dallimore, Lewis Charnock, Joe Bullock, Nathan Mossop, Oliver Wilkes, Jarrad Stack, Bradd Crellin, Martin Aspinwall. Subs: Dan Abram, Andrew Dawson, Tom Walker, Dan Toal.
KEIGHLEY COUGARS: Ritchie Hawkyard, Vinny Finnigan, Davey Dixon, Adam Ryder, Andrew Gabriel, William Milner, Matthew Beharrell, Scott Law, James Feather, Francis Welsh, Joshua Lynam, Josh Tonks, Michael Emmett. Subs: Brendon Rawlins, Adam Brook, Matthew Bailey, Brad Nicholson.
Referee: N Bennett.