Date: Friday 3rd April

Time: 3.00pm

Venue: Kingston Park, Newcastle

Newcastle Thunder pushed Dewsbury close in the Challenge Cup whilst Barrow were thumped by Halifax. Who will start League One with two points in the North East?

Last Time Out

Thunder’s League One Cup semi-final at Swinton last time out was postponed so they come into the game on the back of a heart breaking defeat at Dewsbury in the Challenge Cup.

Two late tries were enough to send Dewsbury Rams through after tries from Paul Stamp and Tom Capper sent Thunder into half time level before they took the lead through Benn Hardcastle before the Rams last gasp attempts secured them the victory.

Barrow’s attempt at bouncing back from a shock home defeat to Oldham ending up with a thrashing by Championship side Halifax in the Challenge Cup.

The Raiders trailed 40-0 at the interval but managed to draw the second half after tries from Brad Marwood, Max Wiper and debutant Cameron Pitman salvaged some pride for Paul Crarey’s side.

Team News

Stanley Gene may be without Papua New Guinea international Mark Mexico for the visit of the Raiders who is a doubt with a knee injury.

Hooker Evan Simons is expected to feature following his arrival in the off-season from League One rivals Hemel Stags.

Barrow will be without Jamie Butler who has had to see a neurologist this week for scans on his head as he recovers from concussion.

Lee Haney, taken from the field by air ambulance against Keighley, is also still absent as he recovers from a head injury.

Key Battle

The back row could prove to be the game makers in this tie as the Thunder’s Sonny Esslemont, Jason Payne and Rhys Clarke go head to head with Raiders back row of Liam Harrison, Adam Nicholson and Anthony Bate.

Whilst Barrow have brains and brawn in the shape of Harrison and Bate, on this occasion this might not be enough to take on the leadership skills of Payne and the Super League experience of Esslemont.

What The Coaches Say

Newcastle Thunder Head Coach Stanley Gene: “Six years ago the club was struggling to go out and get wins and last year was very hard but we finished fourth, which I couldn’t believe.

“We’ve got a squad who can compete in this league and if they keep going like this we can achieve something big by the end of the season.

“Barrow are a very good side, they are the bookies favourite to win the league. It will be a challenge for us and a tough one which we’re looking forward to. Our boys are going to go in and see where we’re at. Hopefully we’re going to get a good crowd on Friday.”

Barrow Raiders Head Coach Paul Crarey: “It will be a tough challenge, I’ve watched a bit of video of them and they’re very enthusiastic and a big physical team. The challenge for us is our young side hasn’t played away from home yet so we’ll be going into the unknown but it should be a good game.

“If we’d have had to play last week we’d have been decimated with injuries, so the week off has been great. Hopefully this week we’ll get some bodies back and are looking forward to the week in week out league calendar.”


This will be a tight encounter at Kingston Park and is a hard one to call, but I feel the 4G pitch will prove to be a big difference maker for Thunder throughout the season. – Newcastle by 8.

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