Barrow Raiders head coach Paul Crarey wants to give their fans a day out at Summer Bash in May for the League 1 Cup final, but they first must beat Oxford in one of two League 1 Cup semi-finals on Sunday (2.00pm).
“One of our targets for the season when we set out in February was to reach Summer Bash and we’re just one game away from it now,” said Crarey. I’ve done commentary for BBC Radio Cumbria Sport at Summer Bash for the last couple of years and it’s an unbelievable event. You get fans from across the spectrum and with teams like Hull KR being there this year, you get a massive influx of fans. It’s a great event and well-run and there’s great entertainment for everybody. To give the Barrow fans the chance to go and sample the atmosphere would be fantastic.”
“Oxford are in our way of that and we have got to be really clinical on Sunday and be on the ball from minute one to minute 80. Oxford are there on merit and they’ve put some big teams away to get to this point so it’s important we turn up with the focus and have a good go really early on.”
Tim Rumford, head coach of Oxford, is excited at the opportunity to be playing in the semi-finals of the competition, and hopes his side can build on their solid start to League 1 in 2017. He said: “This is a great opportunity for our young team – it’s a new experience for just about all of our squad to be playing in a game so deep into the competition. We have a squad made up of ex-academy players that are 19 or 20 and top-level players from the amateur game, so it’s new territory for most of them and it’s exciting.”
League 1 Cup winners in 2015, North Wales Crusaders travel to University of Gloucestershire All Golds in the other semi-final on Sunday (3.00pm). Crusaders came a cropper against All Golds in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup third round, and North Wales boss Mike Grady is wary of the threat they pose.
He said: “We will go into this semi-final as underdogs because they did beat us last time. They’ve beaten Workington and Keighley so they’re a good, big side and we can’t let them get on top early doors. Both our League 1 Cup games have been away so we’ve had it tough and we deserve to be where we are. It’s another testing one away to Gloucester so if we get there, we’ll have done it the hard way.”
Lee Greenwood wants his All Golds side to put in a better performance than they did in the semi-finals 12 months ago, when they were beaten 58-18 at York City Knights. We got to this stage last season and we were disappointed after being handed a hammering by York so it would be nice to do ourselves justice this year. We’re at home and we want to make sure it is hard for teams to come here and get a result – we’ve beaten North Wales and Keighley so far.”
There is one re-arranged League 1 game this weekend, as Hunslet host Whitehaven at 2.00pm on Sunday.