Cumbrian friends turn rivals in televised Championship relegation clash

JONTY GORLEY is both a fan and a friend of fellow Cumbrian coach Paul Crarey – but that won’t stop him trying to plunge the Barrow Raiders boss further into the mire when they visit Whitehaven tonight (Monday, August 21).

For the sides clash in front of the Viaplay Sports television cameras at the LEL Arena (7.45) desperate for the spoils as they each try to ensure Championship survival.

Whitehaven, promoted in 2019, might be three points better off than their neighbours, but they are by no means sure of safety at the end of a season which has featured financial difficulties which thankfully seem to be easing.

Barrow, promoted in 2021, made last season’s play-offs, but have struggled to adapt to the loss of key backs Tee Ritson (to St Helens) and Hakim Miloudi, who returned to France to play in the domestic Elite One competition.

But Gorley, who will again join forces with Crarey to coach Cumbria when they take on a Wales RL Chairman’s XIII in Whitehaven-born Kyle Amor’s testimonial at the LEL Arena on Friday, October 13, believes Barrow are in a false position.

“We’ve been diamonds or rocks, and it’s been a bit similar for Barrow under Cresta (Crarey),” he said.

“For one reason or another, it hasn’t clicked this season, but they have plenty of good players, and if anyone can get steer them away from trouble, it’s him.

“I’ve known Cresta a long time, he’s got bags of experience, he’s been a big help to me over the years, and I enjoyed working with him in the Cumbria camp when we played Jamaica before the World Cup last year.”

It’s the third meeting of the sides this season, with Whitehaven winning 16-14 at Barrow on Good Friday and the Raiders triumphing 32-16 at the Summer Bash at York in June.

“They did a job on us, so we’ll have to be wary,” added Gorley.

“It’s nicely-poised at 1-1 and the fans up here love a derby, so it should be a good night.”

Viaplay’s coverage will switch to Sundays after they screen the York versus Batley round-26 clash on Monday, September 18.

The final-round game between Sheffield and Bradford will be shown on September 24, followed by play-off games on October 1 and 8 (both at 6.30pm) and then the Championship Grand Final on October 15 (2.30pm).

Whitehaven 21-man squad: Dave Eccleston, Chris Taylor, Curtis Teare, Karl Dixon, Connor Holliday, Lachlan Lanskey, Dion Aiye, Jamie Doran, James Newton, Lasarusa Tabu, Guy Graham, Perry Singleton, Ryan King, Lucas Castle, Josh Rourke, Dan Spencer-Tonks, Oscar Doran, Jake Carter, Ross Ainley, George Hill, Brad Holroyd. 

Barrow 21-man squad: Ellis Archer, Jack Billington, Luke Broadbent, Andrew Bulman, Greg Burke, Brett Carter, Rio Corkill, Luke Cresswell, Charlie Emslie, Ben Evans, Adam Jackson, Ryan Johnston, Danny Langtree, Connor Saunders, Ryan Shaw, Jarrad Stack, Dan Toal, Shane Toal, Tom Wilkinson, Josh Wood, Greg Worthington.