Having been coerced into a brief resume, here goes.............
Barrow Raiders (12) 18 Sheffield Eagles (14) 20
Although Raiders lost by such a small margin, their commitment, and especially their defence was a "pleasure" (in a strange way) to watch.
Eagles were playing their 4th game in 15 days ( 3 in the last 10 days ~ in the last 3 games scoring 133 points (including 23 tries) and conceding only 40 points) and there were two outcomes possible from this encounter today. Either Eagles would continue on the try scoring trail or they would have their normal tough game at Craven Park where Raiders seem to pull out all the stops and fight to the end.
The result was the latter. I have not seen a Raiders team play so well under pressure and the tackling in general was of a very high standard, except for the high tackles!! (which the inept referee J Cobb (who appeared just out of nappies) failed to register on the radar) There were , in my opinion, one or two of the Raiders players who had serious problems with losing their dummies, especially McGilvray and Casey, who didn't like being tackled or being pulled up for a mistake. Harrison and Campbell were work-horses along with Brennan who was superb in both defence and forcing the attacking play.
Whereas Sheffield , who looked jaded, (and were) tried hard to break the stubborn wall that confronted them. Eventually on the 4th minute, the deadlock was broken with a well worked drive on the Eagles line.and #14 scoring the try . With #21 scoring the conversion on 4 mins..
NOW MY FIRST GRIPE .............. due to the poor PA we were unable to hear the names of the players and when we looked for reference in the programme the players were only numbered 1 to 17 with no squad numbers and it will only be when I refer back to the last Eagles game at Don Valley will I get the names of the scorers etc...............i believe this needs rectifying especially as the programme gives " a team" which often is nothing like the one which runs out on the pitch.... Gripe 1 over.....
Quentin Laulu-Togagae (#1) then eventually started his attack on Menzie Yere's scoring record for this season and added one to his total on 16 mins, and this score made it scoring at least one try in the last 10 games this season, bar 1. His 6th consecutive game of getting on the score sheet!! Dom Brambani (#7) strangely missed the kick, as his record in all games this season is 80%. The travelling band of Eagles supporters did not have to wait too long for Q to go in for his 2nd of the day on 22 min., which Dom Brambani again failed to convert, but credit to Raiders who were not giving in too easily and they maintained pressure and scored another good try on 28 mins. Raiders continued their pressure and good defence against the inept refereeing on J Cobb, who seriously needs to go back to school and swat up on the rules.... perhaps he is sitting his GCSEs this week with the touch judges needing a visit to specsavers. Again the pressure Eagles were exerting paid dividends and Q went in for his hat-trick try and his 21st try of the season (and his 76th try in 72 games). Brambani converting this one at last and taking his points score this season to 201.
The half-time hooter came when both teams were showing signs that they both wanted their cup of tea and slice of orange! Raiders , a deserved, 12, Eagles , a hard fought , 14.
Penalty count at half-time was Raiders 3 Eagles 3. Drop Outs : Raiders 1 Eagles 3 .. [This demonstrating the pressure Raiders were exerting]
The 874 spectators were treated to a hard fought 2nd half, not helped by the inept display of the merry whistler and his flag waving chums. There were only 2 tries scored in a defensive 2nd period and the ex-Raiders star of 80+ games for Raiders and playing his 85th game for the Eagles, #9, AAndrew Henderson, went over for his customary power try on 57 mins which Dom Brambani converted,.
Raiders were not giving in and although they looked extremely weary, they kept going and Raiders #16 scored with 7 mins left on the clock and #21 converted, giving the supporters of both teams something to do to get behind their teams. With further incredulous refereeing decisions going against both sides and some strange penalty calls throughout the match, including a vast number of missed calls or confusing against both sides there were no more scores and the result for Eagles kept them at the top of the Championship, but only just and Raiders, who were possibly the better team on the day, lost by only 2. They could have won it if certain players had not constantly held down, even after warnings, and had played rugby instead of being petulant. Casey was an example of this, particularly close to his line.
Penalty count 2nd half; Raiders 5 Sheffield 6. Drop outs : raiders 1 Eagles 1.
I awarded the merry whistler 5/100, and was informed by supporters of both teams, that that was generous!!
Un-named Raiders supporters suggested that I must put some stats on here, and my reply was that few were taken as there was no way I could do anything re interchanges because of the poor PA system, but some would appear!!
Comments made by Eagles players:
That was a hard match and Raiders could have won easily if it hadn't been that we had to win.
That is the best pitch we have played on all season and although a little hard was in great condition.
We are so tired after all these games and the travel, but we do not roll over easily.
That ref was abysmal and was too influenced by the crowd. [Raiders fans were right to shout at his decisions, or lack of them, most of the time, but some calls for forward pass and off-side were a joke especially when they were 70 yards from the play......... that's my comment!]
Raiders should not be bottom of the league with a performance like that.
Finally.....Gripe 2........ I think that halifaxjohn must have been at the game as one spectator, not wearing Raiders colours, was more concerned about how many Eagles fans there were at Don Valley against Barrow (in a cup match) and the fact that we have played a series of 8 games when 7 were at home, includes 2 Challenge Cup and a Northern Rail Cup match and fans cannot keep forking out. He never actually mentioned the good game we had just watched.
Some Eagles stats !!: Menzie Yere (#3) 95 tries in 127 games, and 23 tries in 19 games this season.
QLT : 21 tries in 19 games in this season
Dom Brambani 93 goals (and 2 tries and a drop goal) in 19 games this season and he played his 96th consecutive(in the two spells) game for Sheffield v Raiders and whist playing for Dewsbury and then joining Eagles has played in 94 consecutive (unbroken) games .
Sorry can't do any other facts from Raiders v Eagles apart from that was the 24th meeting since Barrow voted for us in 1999. Eagles have won 14. 10th meeting at Craven Park and only the 4th time Eagles have won!!