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Karl Ashall: “It’s another huge game”

By | Interview

North Wales Crusaders vice captain Karl Ashall believes a positive result at Hunslet will put the Wrexham side back in the hunt for a play-off place.

Although defeat to Doncaster last time out was a blow for Crusaders, they are still just four points below sixth-placed Workington Town with a game in hand.

And Ashall reckons his side are more than capable of responding when they visit Hunslet on Sunday.

“It’s another huge game, as they all will be between now and the end of the season,” he said.

“It’s important that we perform from one to 17 and we all stand up and be counted.

“We’ve beaten top-of-the-table this season so it shows that, if we can perform, we can beat anybody.

“If all of us perform well, we’ll give ourselves a really good chance.

“We need to try and pick up as many wins as we can, but we’re taking it one game at a time and going from there.

“We pushed Hunslet all the way when we played them at home, but I feel we’re playing a lot better now than we were then.”

Although North Wales didn’t score any points in the loss at home to Doncaster, it certainly wasn’t through the want of trying, according to Ashall.

“When you look at the statistics, it’s difficult to say that we underperformed.

“We threw everything at them, but we just couldn’t break them down.

“They’ve spent a lot of money and they’re a very good side on paper.

“Their edges were very solid in defence and their middles were just that bit more physical than ours.

“I thought some of their tries in the first-half were against the run of play and we were perhaps unfortunate to be behind at half-time.

“We need to put that behind us, learn from it and put in a positive display at Hunslet.”

Crusaders’ Supporters Club are running a coach to Hunslet on Sunday, leaving The Turf at 11.40am and priced at £15 per person.

Anthony Murray aiming to build some momentum after Whitehaven win

By | Interview

North Wales Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray has called on his players to build on yesterday’s 24-22 victory at Whitehaven with back-to-back home matches coming up.

Murray’s side struck twice in the final five minutes to clinch a deserved two points at top-of-the-table Haven.

Crusaders were unfortunate to find themselves 18-16 down at the break, having controlled the match for large parts of the first-half.

However, North Wales showed real determination late on and Karl Ashall’s try in the final minute secured the win.

“I’m really pleased, but I’m not surprised because we’re capable of doing that and we’ve proved it during the course of the season,” Murray said.

“The main aim for us was to be better than we were against Newcastle, particularly defensively.

“I think the players were slightly embarrassed after the Newcastle defeat because defensively we haven’t been too far off this season.

“We knew Whitehaven would be really strong, one dimensional and rely heavily on their forwards. They also use a lot of offloads and try to catch you.

“I felt we dealt with that quite well.

“When we went behind, we didn’t panic, showed better game management than we have done previously and I thought we were worthy winners.

“You can’t take anything away from the players because we’ve come all the way to Cumbria and got the win.

“I think this is the third time we’ve beaten them at home and it’s a really difficult place to visit.”

Crusaders now face Keighley Cougars and Workington Town over the next two weeks, giving them a good chance to build some momentum.

“What’s been so frustrating for me as the coach and everyone else involved with Crusaders is that we’ve not been far away all season,” Murray added.

“There are ifs and maybes throughout any season, but the three games that have cost us heavily are Oldham, Keighley and London. We lost by two points and one point.

“If we win those and up here at Whitehaven, we’re on 14 points and we’re where we should be in the table on a very limited budget.

“It’s no good us coming here, getting the two points and then not backing it up in the two home games we’ve got.

“If I am honest, I think our home performances need to improve and we haven’t got a better opportunity than in this next fortnight.

“We’re not out of that race for fifth spot as there are plenty of games to go yet.

“We’ve got to back ourselves and keep moving forward.”

North Wales host Keighley Cougars at Queensway Stadium at 2.30pm on Sunday, June 30.

Tickets are priced at £12 for adults, £10 for concessions and £2 for U16s.

Anthony Murray hoping to replicate recent performances

By | Interview

North Wales Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray has called on his players to build on the momentum they’ve gained over the last couple of weeks.

Murray’s side booked their place in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup by beating London Skolars and have been rewarded with a trip to amateur club Thatto Heath Crusaders.

North Wales ran Oldham mightily close, losing 16-14 late on, in their last League 1 outing before that.

And Murray wants his side to build on those two performances when they take on Hunslet at Queensway Stadium this Sunday.

“It’s going to be tough but, if we have the same approach as we did against Oldham, there’s no reason we can’t compete with Hunslet,” he said.

“We’re playing top of the league and they’re up there for a reason. They’ve won two from two so far.

“We need to take some confidence from both the Oldham performance and the win at London.

“London’s a difficult place to go and, when I reviewed the game, there wasn’t a time in the match when we didn’t look as though we were in control.

“We went into a bit of a lull at one point in the match, but we brought ourselves back out of that.

“When London are at home, you know they’re not going to give up and we expected the response from them.

“I’ve every confidence we can compete with Hunslet and get something from the game.”

Back the lads at Queensway Stadium on Sunday as they aim to build on the victory at London last weekend.

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Anthony Murray hoping to back up Oldham performance against Skolars in cup

By | Interview

North Wales Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray wants his side to build on their display against Oldham when they take on London Skolars in the third round of the Challenge Cup this Sunday.

Both Crusaders and Skolars join the competition at the third-round stage and will be eyeing a big draw in round four.

London lost 48-12 to Newcastle Thunder in League 1 last time out, while Crusaders fell to an agonising 16-14 defeat to Oldham.

And Murray is expecting another tough challenge for his side when they travel to London.

“It’s not going to be easy,” he said.

“London are a really difficult team to play against as you sometimes don’t know which team is going to turn up.

“They have the capability of beating anybody on their day, like we do.

“Both teams will want to win so they can get a decent draw in the next round.”

Despite being wary of Skolars, Crusaders’ boss believes his side will give themselves a good chance of progressing should they match their display against Oldham.

“If we go down to London with the standard we’ve set ourselves last weekend, we’ll give them a good game,” Murray said.

“We’ve put a lot of focus into this cup game and we’ve tried to fix up a couple of things from the Oldham defeat.

“I was pulling my hair out at times against Workington, but I was reasonably quiet against Oldham.

“I didn’t need to say too much because we were controlling the game and playing well.

“It’s now about backing it up and I hope we can give a good account of ourselves.”

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Reaction: Anthony Murray on Crusaders’ narrow defeat to Oldham

By | Interview

North Wales Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray believes his side have set the standard for themselves with their display against Oldham.

Despite North Wales leading 14-0 with an hour gone, Oldham struck three times in the last 20 minutes to nick a late win in Wrexham.

Crusaders were the better side for large parts and, on another day, could easily have secured the two points.

“I’m disappointed that we lost the game because it’s two points that got away from us, but I’m pleased about how our players went about their business,” he said.

“Oldham are a very well coached team and have been near the top of the division for the last two seasons.

“They hammered us twice last year and we needed to make massive improvements from the Workington match defensively.

“Oldham threw a lot at us and we dealt with it well.

“Throughout the match, we were in front and deservedly so, but rugby league’s cruel.

“If you come up with a couple of errors, a good team like Oldham will punish you.

“We gave that interception away and it lifted Oldham.

“We then gave a penalty away and they scored from it.

“Overall, we’ve set the standard of where we’re capable of being.

“The challenge for us now is being at that standard week in, week out.”

Although Crusaders are yet to record any points on the table so far this season, they couldn’t have had a more difficult start.

And Murray is optimistic that his side can kick on from here.

He said: “For large parts of the Workington game, we pushed them close and we were better team for the majority of the game against Oldham.

“We just need to fix one or two things, but we need to keep that standard and energy.

“If we do, we won’t be far off at all.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist when you’re involved with rugby league.

“You’ve got to have a high completion rate, your penalty count has got to be low, your kicking has got to be good and your kick-chase has got to be even better.

“In all of those areas, we asked for an improvement.

“We worked hard on it during the week and it showed.

“If you do all of the basics, you give yourself a good chance.

“We came unstuck because of an unfortunate interception, as those things can happen, and a penalty towards the end.”

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