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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Haven find Barrow too hot to handle

A RESURGENT Haven silenced many of their critics with a strong defensive display that repelled the Raiders’ attack for much of this derby clash but it was the current league champions who came away with the points at the final whistle.

Haven boss Ged Stokes was delighted to see a marked improvement from his side, especially in defence, and they picked up a deserved bonus point from the opening game of the Easter weekend.

It could have gone either way and the Haven squad should have gone into Monday’s clash at Widnes with renewed confidence. If Spencer Miller’s try midway through the second half had stood then the game could have swung back in Haven’s favour – but it was not to be and it was Barrow instead who picked up momentum.

Ostler’s two tries in nine minutes killed off any hopes that Haven could come back and win this game but their pack could walk away with heads held high. They were well marshalled by the impressive Graeme Mattinson and Howard Hill shone in both attack and defence.

It was Haven who started the stronger in some muddy conditions, and they piled some early pressure on their Cumbrian rivals, getting on the scoreboard quickly. A chip through from Gregg McNally bounced back off the post and was scooped up by Carl Rudd and he gratefully crossed the whitewash and added the extras.

Haven gathered momentum and forced a number of drop-outs from the Barrow line, with some intuitive kicking from McNally and Rudd and Haven were unlucky not to add to their score.

But then, slightly against the run of play, Barrow hit back. James Coyle broke through the defensive line and then good hands moved the ball swiftly out to the wing where Andy Ballard strolled through to touch down. But Jamie Rooney missed the kick from just inside the touchline.

Rudd kicked a penalty in reply for Haven with six minutes before the break and they led 8-4. There were chances for both sides before half-time, with Ballard stealing the ball from Craig Calvert one-on-one to gain great field possession, only for Barrow to knock on.

Then Mick Govin made a great break, before releasing McNally but then Reece Fox also let the ball slip from his grasp and the opportunities went begging before Barrow narrowed the gap with a penalty from the boot of Rooney to make it 8-6.

Mattinson began the second half with a bang, opening up the Barrow defence, then a McNally chip and chase piled the pressure on but it was that man Broadbent who came up with the goods for the Raiders, scooping up the ball and just making it out of his own in-goal area.

Barrow answered with an attack from Zeb Luisi, he handed several defenders off and then slipped the ball to the supporting James Coyle, before looping round to take it back. Rooney then put in a great kick right into the mud near Haven’s try line, with the ball stopping dead and making Haven’s defence work hard.

On 60 minutes the crowd erupted as they believed Spencer Miller was in for a crucial try but the video referee chalked off the score for crossing and this turned the match in Barrow’s favour as minutes later Ostler put them in the lead for the first time.

Barrow had looked bereft of options as they encroached on Haven’s try line but then Zeb Luisi flicked the ball out from dummy half to Ostler and he raced over. Rooney tagged on the two pointer and Barrow were ahead 12-8.

Barrow were now in the ascendancy and a chip kick from Rooney was bundled over the dead ball line by Calvert and they followed up with a second try for Ostler before Rooney slotted over a drop-goal.

He attempted a penalty goal from 40 metres out in the final minute to try and deny Haven a bonus point but missed and Haven deservedly picked up something from a determined display.

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