Tough Championship start for Barrow Raiders
BARROW Raiders were dealt a fearsome February when the Championship fixtures were announced today.
The newly promoted side could not face a tougher start as they head off to the capital for the opener against London Broncos on February 4.
That match is swiftly followed by a first visit to Barrow from Canada’s Toronto Wolfpack, with the mighty Leigh Centurions also heading to Craven Park.
The Raiders close the month with a trip to Yorkshire when they head to the Foxs Biscuits Stadium and take on Batley Bulldogs.
“It’s a case of hang on to your hats and here we go,” said Barrow coach Paul Crarey when the fixtures were revealed. “That’s a start and a half.”
Barrow earned the right to Championship rugbyafter a nail biting 10-6 League One play off final win against Whitehaven last month.
But it February which is foremost in the mind of Crarey, who added: “I think it is going to be a massive challenge for us, there is no harder start than what we have got against potential Super League teams.
“At least we have got Toronto to play at home and we have got Leigh at home, which will be great for our crowd. Hopefully we can compete and see where we are.
“That’s where we are probably not at, the top end of the table which is where they will be. To be realistic we are fighting to stay up.”
The weather could play a major part at the start of the season and heavy conditions could be a leveller for Barrow’s visitors.
“If you look at the Toronto versus Whitehaven game last year, it was a boggy ground and it was pretty close so hopefully we can compete,” said Crarey.
“We know how hard it is going to be and like I said after the game against Whitehaven it will be a little minor miracle if we do stay up but we will give it our best shot as a group.
“This is what we have strived for for three years, to be with these elite teams, and it is a case of getting ready for the start which is probably going to be really brutal.
“Toronto and Leigh at home is a dream start for the fans and I am sure they will get behind us.”
Crarey is calling on supporters to enjoy the Championship ride and he said: “Enjoy every game and cheer is on from week one until the end of the season no matter what is thrown at us.”
Preparations for the Championship start on November 18 when pre-season begins. Barrow have two home friendlies against Keighley Cougars on January 14 and Whitehaven on January 28.
BARROW RAIDERS FIXTURES – View below or on our Fixtures page.
February: 4: London Broncos (A) KO 3pm; 11: Toronto Wolfpack (H) 3pm; 18: Leigh Centurions (H) 3pm; 25: Batley Bulldogs (A) 3pm.
March: 4: Dewsbury Rams (H) 3pm; 11: Rochdale Hornets (A) 3pm; 18: Challenge Cup Round Four; 25: Sheffield Eagles (H) 3pm; 30 Halifax RLFC (A) 7.30pm.
April: 2: Swinton Lions (H) 3pm; 7: Toulouse Olympique (A) 3.30pm; 15: Featherstone Rovers (H) 3pm, 22: Challenge Cup Round Five; 29: Leigh Centurions (A) 3pm.
May: 6: Batley Bulldogs (H) 3pm; 13: Challenge Cup Round Six; 20 Swinton Lions (A) 3pm; 26: Summer Bash, Blackpool, Sheffield Eagles (H) 3pm.
June: 3: Challenge Cup Quarter Final; 10: Rochdale Hornets (H) 3pm; 17: Featherstone Rovers (A) 3pm; 23: Toronto Wolfpack (A) 4.30pm.
July: 1 Halifax RLFC (H) 3pm; 8: Dewsbury Rams (A) 3pm; 15: Toulouse Olympique (H) 3pm; 22: Sheffield Eagles (A) 3pm; 29: London Broncos (H) 3pm.
August: 5: Challenge Cup Semi Final; 12: Championship Shield Round 1;19: Championship Shield Round 2; 25: Challenge Cup Final; 27 Championship Shield Round 3.
September: 2: Championship Shield Round 4; 9 Championship Shield Round 5; 16: Championship Shield Round 6; 23: Championship Shield Round 7; Championship Shield Semi Final.
October: 7: Championship Shield Final.