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Report: North Wales Crusaders 14-24 Whitehaven

By | Match Report

NORTH WALES CRUSADERS lost 28-14 at home to top-of-the-table Whitehaven, despite staging a second-half comeback. 

The visitors didn’t need to do anything particularly pretty, but they made good yards up the middle and were clinical whenever they found themselves in decent field position, especially in the first-half.

After Haven had found themselves 24-2 up, Crusaders brought the score back to within ten points and had the better of the game for most of the second-half.

Ultimately, though, they left it too late and it was Haven’s extra bit of quality when it mattered that proved to be the difference.

Whitehaven had the first opportunity of the match as they assaulted the left flank, but Andrew Bulman was forced into touch as he tried to dive over in the corner.

Rob Massam had a similar effort chalked off for Crusaders as Haven’s right edge defence did well to keep out the Welsh international winger.

Crusaders were then given a penalty for interference in the ruck and opted to kick for goal, with Ben Stead giving the hosts a 2-0 lead.

Haven soon responded, though, as Sam Forrester broke through North Wales’ defence and fended off a couple of tackles on his way to the line.

In their next set near Crusaders’ line, the visitors built on their advantage when hooker Sam Dowsett managed to crash over from acting half down the left flank.

After a sustained spell of pressure on the away side’s line, North Wales were pulled up for two penalties and Haven opted to kick the second one, with Jacob Moore extending the lead to 12-2.

Haven assaulted the left side once again and Chris Taylor managed to force his way over in the corner, despite the attention of a few Crusaders defenders.

The visitors attempted to stretch their lead by another two points on the half-time hooter, but Moore’s kick flew wide of the sticks.

In the early stages of the second half, North Wales conceded a penalty for an incorrect play-the-ball while in possession, with Moore kicking a goal to take Haven’s lead to 18-2.

It didn’t take long for the Cumbrians to add another try as they chipped over the defence on the last play, Jessie Joe Parker collected and he handed the ball on to Callum Phillips, who had enough pace to finish next to the sticks.

However, North Wales hit back through captain Kenny Baker, who run on to a short pass from Kenny Hughes to bulldoze his way over.

It was game on soon after as Crusaders added another, with Massam collecting Steve Roper’s kick to the corner to dive over.

Although North Wales put further pressure on Haven’s line, the away side wrapped the match up late on through Bulman, who managed to wrestle his way out of a tackle and finish acrobatically in the corner.

1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Dante Morley-Samuels
4 Earl Hurst
5 Rob Massam
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
8 Callum Hazzard
9 Karl Ashall
10 Warren Thompson
11 Simon Atherton
12 Matt Reid
13 Kenny Baker
14 Kenny Hughes
15 Jacob Thomas
17 Brad Brennan
21 Chris Worrall

Tries: Baker (55), Massam (58)
Goals: Stead 1/1, Baker 2/2

3 Chris Taylor
2 Jordan Burns
23 Jason Mossop
4 Jessie Joe Parker
19 Andrew Bulman
1 Sam Forrester
7 Callum Phillips
8 Marc Shackley
14 Sam Dowsett
10 Kris Coward
11 Brett Phillips
12 Jacob Moore
13 Tom Wilkinson
6 Dion Aiye
Carl Forster
15 Connor Holliday
9 James Newton

Tries: Forrester (16), Dowsett (18), Taylor (38), Phillips (48), Bulman (78)
Goals: Moore 3/6, Holliday 0/1

Referee: Joe Stearne
HT: 2-16
Attendance: 342
MOTM: Callum Hazzard – the prop worked hard in the forwards and continued his sound form.

Report: North Wales Crusaders U13s 42-8 Woolston Rovers U13s

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders U13s progressed to the semi-final of their division’s cup competition with another high-quality performance against Warrington-based Woolston Rovers.

Despite making a slow start to the game, the youngsters gradually got to grips with their visitors and played some enterprising rugby league to build a solid 22-4 half-time lead.

They pinned the Rovers back in their own half for most of the opening 40 minutes, with the forward pack dominating and giving the halfbacks a platform to launch attack after attack on the Woolston try line.

The visitors battled hard to stay in the game, but they couldn’t live with the ferocity of Crusaders’ attack and the ever-solid tackling.

Greg Thomas and Will Buttress, in particular, were causing mayhem for the Woolston attack with their huge hits.

They were well-supported by Charlie Jones, Joe Jones and Tom Himsworth.

The second-half saw the home side heavily penalised by the referee, giving Woolston a lot of possession and field position, but the defence held firm with every player committed to holding their opponents out.

Crusaders were devastating when they did get some ball, though, launching clever attacks from deep that resulted in some exciting scores.

Buttress picked up a loose ball on his own try line and sprinted the length of the field for a superb solo try.

Thomas then went on a rampaging 80-metre run, before being pulled down just short of the line.

From the resulting quick play-the-ball, however, prop Himsworth had bust a gut to get in support to smash his way over for a great try.

Iwan Hughes and Peter Bennington then combined to put on a great old school rugby league run around move, allowing Hughes to complete his hat-trick of scores on the day.

Crusaders played some lovely, free-flowing stuff at times and, with a bit more composure, could have scored even more points.

But this shouldn’t detract from yet another fine performance from a group of players still learning the game, while competing against teams with vastly more experience.

Coach Allen Jones said: “We’re delighted with the progress being made by the team and the way they’re now developing their own style of play, which is tough, physical and enterprising.”

Next up for Crusaders U13s is an away trip to Haydock Warriors in pursuit of two more valuable league points.

Report: London Skolars 19-18 North Wales Crusaders

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders’ two-game winning streak came to an end as London Skolars scored a try and kicked a drop-goal in the last five minutes to clinch a dramatic 19-18 victory.

The home side have picked up some eye-catching results lately and currently sit joint-second in the League 1 table, but North Wales were the better side for the vast majority of the match and led for large period.

Once again, though, Crusaders’ game management at the back end of the game cost them.

If the Wrexham side had been a bit smarter late on in matches this season, they could well have picked up victories here, at Keighley and at home to Oldham.

When North Wales were given an early penalty in front of the posts, they opted to kick for goal and Ben Stead gave them a two-point advantage.

It didn’t take them long to build on the lead as Stead dinked a kick towards the right flank, Matt Reid collected to cut inside and Callum Hazzard was in support to finish off a nice team move.

As a close encounter was expected between these two sides, Crusaders stretched their lead to 10-0 when the referee blew up for another penalty, with Stead kicking the goal.

After shutting out a spell of London pressure, Anthony Murray’s men tagged on another two points as Stead made it four out of four with the boot.

North Wales looked as though they’d be heading into half-time 12-0 ahead, but they came up with an error deep in their own half and the Skolars took full advantage.

Straight from a scrum, they assaulted the left flank and fullback Joe Brown managed to cut inside to ground next to the sticks.

Although London looked more lively in the second-half, starting to throw the ball around a bit more, it was Crusaders who fashioned the first real chance following the restart.

Simon Atherton thought he’d crossed for a try down the right flank, hitting a good line to fend off a couple of tackles, but the referee ruled the effort out for a knock on.

In the next set of six, London drew level as they played expansively out of their own half, with a couple of offloads and nice runs setting Iliess Macani up for a try.

The response from Crusaders was a quick one, however, and a number of tip-on passes near the line put Lewis Fairhurst over, putting the visitors ahead once again.

Although the match was fairly nip-and-tuck and scrappy throughout, North Wales looked comfortable dealing with London pressure, but a couple of lapses in concentration proved key late on.

The hosts put a testing kick up to the right corner, Rob Massam couldn’t collect and Lamont Bryan profited to touch down, bringing the game to 18-18.

When London next pushed forward and got themselves into decent field position, Craig Mullen showed composure to slot over the drop-goal.

Crusaders tried a one-pointer of their own, but Fairhurst’s effort flew underneath the posts and the away side fell to a defeat they didn’t deserve.

1 Joe Brown
2 Iliess Macani
3 Omari Caro
4 Jacob Ogden
5 Lameck Juma
6 James Barran
7 Craig Mullen
8 Liam Scott
9 Neil Thorman
10 Maliki Lloyd-Jones
11 Jordan Williams
12 Rinaldo Palumbo
13 Mike Bishay
22 Jonathan Magrin
15 Matthew Ross
16 Robert Tuliatu
20 Lamont Bryan

Tries: Brown (40), Macani (57), Bryan (75)
Goals: Thorman (3/3)
Drop-goals: Mullen

1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Matt Reid
4 Earl Hurst
5 Rob Massam
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
8 Callum Hazzard
9 Karl Ashall
10 Warren Thompson
11 Alex Thompson
12 Simon Atherton
13 Kenny Baker
14 Kenny Hughes
16 Brad Brennan
17 Jonny Walker
18 Chris Worrall

Tries: Hazzard (9), Fairhurst (61)
Goals: Stead (5/5)

Referee: Tom Crashley
HT: 6-12
MOTM: Kenny Hughes – the hooker looked lively and provided Crusaders with plenty of go-forward.

Leyland Warriors U13s 0-62 North Wales Crusaders U13s

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders U13s gained another valuable two points with a deserved 62-0 victory over Leyland Warriors, one of their rivals for the division.

Although the young Crusaders were a little patchy in the first ten minutes, their tough tackling and well-organised defence made sure their hosts couldn’t take advantage of the slow start.

Once North Wales got into their stride, however, they showed the Warriors no mercy.

Crusaders built up an impressive 22-0 advantage by half-time through a mixture of devastating forward carries and some great support play.

The second-half performance from the visitors was equally as impressive as they showed some nice and direct attacking play, outstanding close support and a real willingness to move the ball when opportunities came up.

In defence, meanwhile, their tackling was relentless, often forcing Leyland backwards.

The home side kept battling hard, but they found it tough going against Crusaders’ tackling.

North Wales played some lovely rugby league, punching hard down the middle and spreading the ball wider, making it a joy to watch.

The final 62-0 scoreline was a little harsh on Leyland, who never gave up, but Crusaders were in a ruthless mood.

There are tougher tests ahead for North Wales, especially through June as a number of tough-looking fixtures are planned.

But these are games coaches Allen Jones and Rikki Davies are relishing.

“We need to be tested,” Jones said.

“The boys are doing all we are asking of them – both in training and the fixtures we have played – but we are very much looking forward to some tough games in June.”

Loose forward Charlie Jones and second row Joe Jones were terrific in the tackling stakes, well-supported by the big-hitting Will Butress and Greg Thomas, but all of Crusaders’ players were top notch in their tackling.

Alf Gabriel, Tom Himsworth, Oscar Ghattas, Iwan Hughes and George Hinchcliffe were all impressive in attack and dummy half Lewis Spiers Elwin was once again reliability personified.

Half backs Cameron Long and Rhys Owens were calm and assured.

Crusaders’ tries on the day came from Jones (three), Hughes (three), Ghattas (two), Joe Jones, Thomas and flying winger Khaya Mumvura. Hughes kicked five conversions, with Long, Maciver and Jones adding one each.

This is another impressive win on the road for this rapidly-improving team and next up for Crusaders is a home cup quarter-final tie against Warrington-based Woolston Rovers on Sunday at Rhos RUFC, kicking off at 11am.

Report: Woolston Rovers U13s 14-54 North Wales Crusaders U13s

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders U13s progressed to the knock-out stages of their division’s cup with an emphatic, comprehensive and thoroughly-deserved victory at Warrington-based Woolston Rovers.

From the kick-off, the young Crusaders never let the home side settle into any kind of rhythm with their solid tackling, strong attacking drives and close support play.

North Wales played a very pleasing mix of strong ball carrying and close support and passing, which always had the home defence on the back foot.

When Rovers did get some field position, they found Crusaders’ defence a very tough nut to crack.

The visitors built up a well-deserved 28-4 half-time advantage.

The second-half followed the pattern of the first, with Crusaders keeping their collective feet well and truly on the pedal.

To their credit, Woolston battled hard and showed some enterprise in attack, but this was always going to be North Wales’ day.

The final score of 54-14 to Crusaders was a fair reflection of their domination throughout the game.

The foundation for this victory was laid down by Crusaders’ middle unit of Tom Himsworth, Greg Thomas, Charlie Jones, Peter Bennington and Alf Gabriel.

They were well-supported by the edge runners Joe Jones and Will Buttress, with the ever-reliable Lewis Spiers Elwin giving great service from dummy half.

Crusaders’ halfbacks and outside backs had plenty of good quality ball to work with and, as always, the visitors’ tackling was spot on as every player made their tackles and controlled the tackle area superbly.

Tries came from captain Jones (three), fullback Iwan Hughes (three), prop Thomas (two), second rower Buttress, centre Doug Maciver and prop Himsworth. Hughes kicked four conversions and Jones added another.

Coaches Allen Jones and Rikki Davies can be very pleased with the team’s overall performance as they once again demonstrated that they are a group progressing and developing very nicely.

Squad: Iwan Hughes, Khaya Mumvura, Oscar Ghattas, George Hinchcliffe, Roux Gabriel, Doug Maciver, Cameron Long, Greg Thomas, Lewis Spiers Elwin, Tom Himsworth, Joe Jones, Will Buttress, Charlie Jones, Peter Bennington, Alfie Gabriel, Rhys Owens.

Next up for Crusaders’ youngsters is another away trip to Leyland Warriors next Sunday in a league fixture, pursuing a valuable league points.

Report: Doncaster 10-12 North Wales Crusaders

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders made it two wins on the bounce with a resolute display to clinch a 12-10 victory at Doncaster.

The visitors had to defend large spells of pressure on their own line, particularly in the first-half, but they stood up to the task excellently.

Despite losing Dante Morley-Samuels early on and having to switch the side around because of a couple of concussion assessments, Crusaders executed the perfect game plan and thoroughly deserved the two points.

Crusaders started the match brightly and took the lead when the shifted the ball towards the left flank for Earl Hurst to force his way over in the corner.

The visitors had another opportunity soon after as Steve Roper drilled a neat grubber kick into the in-goal area, but Kenny Baker couldn’t quite latch on to it as the ball rolled dead.

Doncaster piled on the pressure for the next ten minutes or so, only to be repeatedly held out by a stubborn North Wales defence.

Anthony Murray’s men then crossed for another try as Karl Ashall grounded Roper’s kick, but it was chalked off for offside.

However, the hosts drew level when Crusaders allowed a high kick to bounce, Watson Boas broke through the heart of the defence and grubbered into the corner for Jason Tali to cross.

North Wales started the second-half well and Rob Massam had an effort ruled out, stepping into touch after fending off two tackles.

They didn’t make the same mistake when they next had a decent opportunity, though, as Brad Brennan hit a good line and managed to offload out to Baker, who dived over underneath the sticks.

But Doncaster came up with an instant response, with Jordan Howden breaking on halfway and knocking off a couple of tackles on his way to the line.

However, Crusaders edged themselves ahead as Ben Stead kicked a penalty goal in front of the sticks.

The Dons threw everything at their visitors late on, but the defensive effort was as outstanding as it had been throughout the match.

Alex Thompson very nearly put North Wales out of sight, only to be halted inches short of the line down the right flank, as the visitors held on.

31 Watson Boas
2 Richard Owen
1 Kieran Buchanan
4 Jason Tali
19 Matty Chrimes
6 Jordan Howden
7 Matty Beharrell
10 Ryan Boyle
20 Callum Ogden
8 Russ Spiers
26 Menzie Yere
22 Brad Foster
13 Jordie Hedges
14 Connor Scott
17 Brandon Douglas
16 Brandan Wilkinson
9 Kyle Kesik

Tries: Tali (34), Howden (53)
Goals: Beharrell (1/2)

1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Dante Morley-Samuels
4 Earl Hurst
5 Rob Massam
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
8 Callum Hazzard
9 Karl Ashall
10 Warren Thompson
11 Jack Houghton
12 Stephen Wild
13 Kenny Baker
14 Kenny Hughes
18 Brad Brennan
21 Alex Thompson
17 Jonny Walker

Tries: Hurst (12), Baker (50)
Goals: Stead (2/3)

Referee: Joe Stearne
HT: 4-4
Attendance: 658
MOTM: Steve Roper – it’s difficult to single out one Crusaders player, but he provided a calm head when it was needed.

Report: North Wales Crusaders 70-8 West Wales Raiders

By | Match Report

Crusaders got their League 1 campaign up and running as they picked up their first points by thrashing the Raiders in the Welsh derby.

When West Wales took the lead within the first ten minutes, you wondered whether it was going to be another frustrating afternoon for North Wales.

But the home side showed exactly what they’re capable of, especially when they bring their more effective players into their attack, and dominated for the remainder of the game, inflicting a biggest defeat of the campaign on the Raiders.

West Wales opened the scoring early on when they attacked the right flank and a nice offload put Patrick Jennings over in the corner.

However, Crusaders responded well as Rob Massam picked up the ball from acting half and broke through the middle to touch down.

Earl Hurst then crossed in the left corner to extend the home side’s advantage.

When Steve Roper finished next to the sticks for North Wales’ third, it sparked Anthony Murray’s men into life and they began to play some scintillating Rugby League, scoring four tries in 12 minutes.

Stephen Wild put Dante Morley-Samuels over in the right corner for a debut try, before Dave Eccleston crossed down the same flank.

Crusaders then came up with an expansive play directly from a scrum as Lewis Fairhurst put Massam in for his second.

Morley-Samuels also completed his brace shortly before half-time, collecting another Wild pass to touch down out wide.

The opening exchanges of the second-half were fairly even and, if anything, West Wales had the better, putting extensive pressure on Crusaders’ line.

However, it was North Wales who struck next when Massam completed his hat-trick in the left corner.

They built on their lead through Saints loanee Callum Hazzard, who scored a spectacular length-of-the-field try.

Massam then grabbed his fourth of the afternoon, collecting a final ball from Hurst after Roper’s looping pass had created space.

Roper got back in on the act with his second, before Jennings notched his brace as he pulled one back for the Raiders.

North Wales rounded off the scoring, though, as Hazzard became the next player to grab two tries, finishing next to the sticks to complete an impressive victory for Crusaders.

1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Dante Morley-Samuels
4 Earl Hurst
5 Rob Massam
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
10 Warren Thompson
9 Karl Ashall
8 Callum Hazzard
11 Jack Houghton
12 Stephen Wild
13 Kenny Baker
14 Kenny Hughes
18 Brad Brennan
21 Alex Thompson
17 Jonny Walker

Tries: Massam (8, 34, 59, 69), Hurst (12), Roper (24, 71), Morley-Samuels (28), Eccleston (30, 38), Hazzard (64, 80)
Goals: Stead (11/12)

1 Phil Cowburn
22 Patrick Jennings
19 Brad Kislingbury
23 Rowland Kaye
25 Mickael Sabour
9 Liam Rice-Wilson
7 Tyler Hunt
8 Connor Parker
6 Ashley Bateman
10 Sam Herron
15 Archie Snook
20 Michael Connor
14 Dalton Desmond-Walker
13 Daniel Madden
26 Morgan Rowlands
21 Samuel Baker
17 Callum Mulkeen

Tries: Jennings (2, 76)
Goals: Hunt (0/2)

Referee: Michael Smaill
HT: 42-4
Attendance: 282
MOTM: Rob Massam – back to his prolific best, grabbing four tries on the day and causing problems throughout.

Report: North Wales Crusaders A 54-14 Ince Rose Bridge Lions

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders A returned to league action last Saturday, picking up an impressive 54-14 victory over Ince Rose Bridge Lions at Deeside Leisure Centre.  

Following a disappointing cup exit the weekend before, the players really stepped up and the final result against this established side certainly didn’t disappoint.  

The first 20 minutes were closely-fought until vice captain Paul Welch scored the opening try of the game, only to be pegged back shortly afterwards with two quick opposition scores.    

By half-time, however, Crusaders had recovered to lead 20-10. 

After the interval, the home side began to dominate the game with strong running, good communication and support play, putting the previous week’s training into effect.  

It was largely one-way traffic and supporters witnessed some champagne rugby league from the home side with the ball spread from one side of the pitch to the other.  

In all, ten tries were scored and some were outstanding efforts.

A team head coach Mike Newton said: “The result showed glimpses of what this ever-evolving side can produce.

“There were a lot of positives throughout the game, but there are still certain areas we will be working on in training.”

This was the last game of the season for Andrew Higgins, who moves to Baltimore in America to coach for Challenger Sports.  

Crusaders A face league leaders Cadishead Rhinos away next on Saturday, April 27.  

Tries: Alfie Matthias (2), Steven Griffiths (2), Paul Welch, Finlay Swift, Damian Goss, Reece Owens, Elliot Long, Jacob Hitchcox
Goals: Ryan Turner (6), Andrew Higgins (2)

Report: North Wales Crusaders A 24-32 Newton Storm

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders A bowed out of the North West Men’s Shield after losing 32-24 to Newton Storm at Shotton Steel RFC, Deeside.

Watched by a good crowd in perfect conditions, the A team paid the price for a slow start as they conceded two early scores, but they recovered well to draw level with fine individual tries by debutant Ryan Newton and man-of-the-match Finlay Swift.

However, Newton’s big, strong running pack regained the ascendancy and, by midway through the second-half, the visitors were seemingly in control at 26-12.

Showing pace and skill, Crusaders then hit back to trail by just two points.

Dylan Rowe scored a spectacular try after excellent work by Ryan Turner and Finlay Swift.

Paul Welch, captaining the side for the first time, followed soon after by holding off several defenders to crash over the line.

Despite conceding another try, the home side threw everything at Storm in attack, but handling errors and a resolute defence kept them at bay as the visitors confirmed their passage into the last 16.

A team head coach Mike Newton praised the effort, but he felt his side lacked consistency in the game.

“We scored some outstanding tries today and I am sure that, with greater concentration, this team has the ability to match the best in Division Four,” he said.

Tries: Newton, Swift, Rowe, Welsh
Goals: Griffiths (4/4)

Crusaders A are back at Deeside Leisure Centre next Saturday in a league fixture against Ince Rose Bridge Lions, kicking off at 2.30pm.

Report: Haydock Warriors U13s 10-54 North Wales Crusaders U13s

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders U13s put in another impressive performance last weekend as they beat Haydock Warriors 54-10 in the Division Four Cup.

It was a comprehensive and thoroughly-deserved victory against a Warriors side who battled hard to the very end of the cup tie.

In a scrappy first-half, Crusaders were in control of the game for large spells, but a couple of very uncharacteristic lapses in their normally rock-solid defence allowed the home team to cross for two tries.

North Wales held a solid 20-10 lead at half-time.

The Crusaders youngsters looked like their old selves again in the second-half, tackling hard and being ruthless in attack as they took total control of the game.

Haydock found it very hard to make any impression on Crusaders’ defensive line and found it harder still to hold the visitors’ hard-running and speedy backline.

George Hinchcliffe, who scored a peach of a try on his first outing, was followed over the tryline by fullback Iwan Hughes (three), captain Joe Jones (two), loose forward Charlie Jones (two) and dummy half Will Buttress (two). Hughes kick seven of out ten conversions.

This victory keeps Crusaders unbeaten on the pitch, scoring tries for fun and conceding only ten points in their three games, in what has been a fantastic start to a season at any level.

Head coach Allen Jones said: “The boys are playing really well, but there is still a huge amount for them to learn.

“They are learning quickly, are a competitive bunch and a real joy to coach.

“There is so much more to come from them and myself and assistant coach Rikki Davies are well aware of our good fortune in having such a talented group who possess real potential to develop and progress into something quite special.”

Next up for Crusaders’ potential stars of the future is a return trip to Haydock in two weeks’ time for a League Four fixture and possibly a valuable two league points.