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Rugby League Championship

THE ‘PACK REPORT: Toronto Wolfpack 8 Barrow Raiders 8

Barrow Raiders have pulled off a surprise result in the second week of their Betfred Championship campaign, drawing with Toronto Wolfpack in a battle of attrition. The match was played in atrocious conditions as the Craven Park surface was reduced to mud following a pre-game barrage of rain. Toronto scored two tries to one but Barrow’s goal kicking was enough to finish the match level.

The Raiders’ halves played to the conditions early with a precise long kicking game which turned around the larger Wolfpack forward pack. Conversely, the Wolfpack’s ordinarily slick backline play was stymied by the conditions as their players struggled to link together multiple passes and even maintain their footing. Barrow were awarded a penalty for a Toronto high shot and kicked a penalty goal to break the initial deadlock.

Toronto hit back shortly after with a try to second rower Andrew Dixon, who ran a tight line off the right hip of hooker Bob Beswick and crashed over Barrow’s goal line. Wolfpack halfback Ryan Brierley chimed in with his long kicking game to kick a 40/20. However, Toronto couldn’t capitalise after a slow tap restart. Toronto appeared to have scored when Andy Ackers scooped up a Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e offload and crossed the line past a frozen Barrow defense, but Laulu-Togaga’e was ruled to have released the ball after the tackle was completed. Barrow themselves were denied a close opportunity at the other end on the stroke of halftime as the ball barely touched the sideline before it was played into the in-goal are and touched down. Toronto finished the half ahead 4-2.

Star Toronto winger Liam Kay was substituted at half time due to a lower back injury. Centre Nick Rawsthorne shifted to the wing to cover Kay and opened the scoring in the second half. Creating something out of nothing, Rawsthorne beat his opposite winger with a left foot step before carrying three cover defenders over the line. Rawsthorne backed this effort up with a line break on the very next set but Toronto couldn’t capitalize as Barrow’s scramble defence held them out.

The Wolfpack enjoyed a majority of possession and field position in the opening exchanges on the back of conservative attacking play with ball in hand and the short kicking game of halves Brierley and McCrone. Barrow shifted the momentum in their favour after making a 50 metre line break following a quick tap on a penalty. After an ensuing arm wrestle for field position, Barrow drew level after Laulu-Togaga’e couldn’t clean up a chip kick and Barrow second rower Dan Toal capitalized, scooping up the loose ball and crossing the line.

The tense final minutes were highlighted by a charge down of an attempted Raiders drop goal by Wolfpack second rower Richard Whiting, who also managed to retain possession. With no thought to a field goal attempt of their own on the muddy surface, Wolfpack centre Greg Worthington crossed Barrow’s try line but was held up with seconds remaining on the clock.

The full time whistle brought on a celebration by the home crowd, as their squad of part timers drew with the heavily favoured Wolfpack. Barrow earned their first competition point of the season. The result is disappointing for Toronto but will be no cause for alarm given the field conditions. Toronto continue their extended road trip to begin the season against Halifax next week.

Toronto Wolfpack 8

Tries: Dixon (22), Rawsthorne (42)

Goals: Brierley 0/2

Barrow Raiders 8

Try: Toal (54)

Goals: Dallimore 2/2

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