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Report: North Wales Crusaders 36-18 London Skolars

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders gave a number of club stalwarts the perfect send-off as they came from 12-0 down to get past London Skolars and pip them to seventh place in League 1.

Jonny Walker – one of just two players remaining from the club’s debut season back in 2012 – Alex Thompson and Stephen Wild have all played a big part in Crusaders’ history and hung up their boots following the clash with Skolars.

It looked like their farewell game wasn’t going to be a happy one as London raced into a 12-0 lead in the early stages.

However, Crusaders clawed their way back at the end of the first-half and dominated the second to secure what turned out to be a comfortable victory in the end.

London took the lead when a kick over the top of Crusaders’ defence took an awkward bounce and Liam Scott collected to touch down next to the posts.

After Rob Massam had an effort disallowed in the corner as the referee called a forward pass in the build-up, the visitors extended their advantage through Jordan Williams, who broke a tackle down the left flank to force his way over.

With half-time approaching, however, North Wales pulled one back as Massam collected a Skolars error and knocked off a couple of attempted tackles on his way to the line.

Crusaders drew level shortly before the break when Wild gathered a nice offload from Joe Ryan near the line to dot the ball down.

The home side carried on in the second-half as they’d finished the first, with Massam showing great strength to grab his second in the left corner.

As Crusaders looked to find their way over for another, though, Omari Caro intercepted a short-side play to race the length of the field and finish out wide.

Trailing by two points, North Wales opted to kick for goal when they were awarded a penalty for interference and Ben Stead added the two points to draw his side level.

The hosts had further joy down the left and went ahead again as Atherton, who is having some time away from rugby league, barged his way over.

With 11 minutes left on the clock, Wild put the result beyond doubt when he broke a tackle down the right and fended off a number of attempted tackles on his way to the line.

Atherton then hit a great line, offloaded to Dave Eccleston and, despite Crusaders’ stand-in fullback having a walk-in effort, he spotted Walker nearby, handing on to the prop forward to touch down for a try as he brought his 168-game North Wales career to an end.

There was still time for another try, however, when Alex Eckley broke upfield, passed to Wild and had the ball returned to him to cross next to the sticks, rounding off a good afternoon’s work for the Welshmen.

1 Dave Eccleston
3 Dante Morley-Samuels
2 Earl Hurst
4 Alex Thompson
5 Rob Massam
6 Karl Ashall
7 Ben Stead
17 Jonny Walker
9 Dec Gregory
10 Warren Thompson
11 Matt Reid
12 Simon Atherton
13 Stephen Wild
21 Alex Eckley
8 James Tilley
18 Joe Ryan
16 Brad Brennan

Tries: Massam (31, 44), Wild (37, 69), Atherton (66), Walker (79), Eckley (80)
Goals: Stead 3/6, Walker 0/1, Wild 1/1

2 Iliess Macani
1 Kayne Chan-Kitchener
3 Omari Caro
4 Jordan Williams
5 Jerome Yates
14 Richard Wilkinson
19 Jy-mel Coleman
10 Judd Greenhalgh
9 Neil Thorman
8 Michael Sykes
11 Jonathan Magrin
12 Michael Greenhalgh
13 Liam Scott
15 Matthew Davies
7 Mike Bishay
18 Eddie Mbaraga
17 Tommy Chipchase

Tries: Scott (12), Williams (25), Caro (51)
Goals: Thorman 3/3

Referee: Kevin Moore
HT: 12-12
Attendance: 421
MOTM: Stephen Wild – his final performance epitomised what he’s done so well throughout his career, showing great leadership and doing all of the small things that can often go unnoticed.

Report: Hunslet 42-18 North Wales Crusaders

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders face an uphill battle to make the League 1 play-offs after losing 42-18 at promotion-chasing Hunslet.

Despite falling 18-0 behind inside the opening 22 minutes, Crusaders responded well and reduced the deficit to 18-12.

But, as they looked to be getting a real foothold in the game, a Hunslet try on the stroke of half-time proved to be a hammer blow.

Hunslet extended their lead early in the second-half and, despite having the field position to try and get themselves back in the game, North Wales never recovered and were ultimately second best on the day.

The home side took the lead when, after a penalty had taken them deep into Crusaders’ half, Josh Tonks broke down the left to finish in the corner.

It didn’t take long for them to build on their advantage as Duane Straughier was put through the line at close range to cross untouched.

After Joe Sanderson kicked a superb 40-20, putting them right on North Wales’ line, they added their third, with Jon-Luke Kirby dotting the ball down.

However, Crusaders responded well and scored two quick-fire tries.

Dec Gregory broke through the line on halfway, created space and dummied his way past the remaining Hunslet players to cross.

Simon Atherton then took advantage of some good expansive play from Callum Hazzard and Steve Roper to dive over in the right corner.

Crusaders had got themselves back in the game and were in the ascendency, but a try for the Yorkshire side on the half-time hooter knocked the stuffing out of the Welshmen.

Charlie Martin ran on to a short ball near the line to touch down next to the sticks.

Following the restart, Hunslet picked up where they left off as Sanderson put Jimmy Watson over underneath the posts.

And Watson added his second when he broke through the line and had the pace to round Lewis Fairhurst at fullback.

With a couple of minutes remaining, Jordan Andrade managed to add Hunslet’s seventh of the day as he squeezed his way over, despite the attention of a couple of Crusaders defenders.

But it was North Wales who had the last word when Stephen Wild put Jonny Walker over.

1 Timmy Watson
5 Dale Bloomfield
23 Nathan Chapell
30 Charlie Martin
3 Tom Ashton
6 Joe Sanderson
7 Simon Brown
16 Zach Braham
9 Jack Lee
31 Jon-Luke Kirby
11 Josh Tonks
12 Duane Straughier
20 Vila Halafihi
32 Jordan Andrade
19 Mike Haley
17 Daniel Hawksworth
14 Ryan Wright
Tries: Tonks (8), Straughier (13), Kirby (22), Martin (40), Watson (50, 62), Andrade (77)
Goals: Sanderson (7/7)

1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Simon Atherton
4 Jordan Penny
5 Rob Massam
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
17 Jonny Walker
9 Karl Ashall
8 Brad Brennan
11 Matt Reid
12 Stephen Wild
13 Alex Eckley
14 Dec Gregory
10 Warren Thompson
25 Callum Hazzard
24 Joe Ryan
Tries: Gregory (28), Atherton (31), Walker (80)
Goals: Stead (3/3)

Referee: Kevin Moore
HT: 24-12
Attendance: 488

Report: North Wales Crusaders 0-30 Doncaster

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders’ play-off challenge was dealt a blow as they lost 30-0 at home to Doncaster.

Although Crusaders had as much ball as Doncaster for large parts of the match, they couldn’t get past a water-tight defensive line.

The Dons defended astutely when required, forcing North Wales into touch on a number of occasions, and three tries in the final 20 minutes took the match away from Crusaders, securing an important win for the visitors.

Doncaster opened the scoring when they broke down the left and an inside pass put Matty Chrimes over.

They built on their lead as Crusaders coughed up possession deep in their own half, leaving Kyle Kesik to pick up the pieces and cross underneath the posts.

When the visitors were awarded a penalty, they opted to kick for goal and Matty Beharrell was successful with the boot, taking their advantage to 14-0 at half-time.

There were no further scores for the first 20 minutes of the second-half and, despite applying plenty more pressure on Doncaster’s line, North Wales couldn’t find a way through.

The away side made their hosts pay for the missed opportunities as Jason Tali forced his way over in the left corner.

The Dons added a fourth when Beharrell lofted a high kick to the corner on the last tackle and a tip back put Connor Bower over.

And the Yorkshiremen rapped matters up late on as Connor Scott made a strong run straight from a tap penalty, bulldozing his way over the line down the left flank.

1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Matt Reid
4 Simon Atherton
5 Dante Morley-Samuels
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
10 Warren Thompson
9 Karl Ashall
8 Brad Brennan
11 Alex Eckley
12 Kenny Baker
13 Stephen Wild
14 Dec Gregory
15 Ryan Smith
20 Alex Thompson
17 Jonny Walker

1 Connor Wynne
5 Sam Doherty
3 Connor Bower
4 Jason Tali
19 Matty Chrimes
33 Rangi Chase
7 Matty Beharrell
10 Ryan Boyle
9 Kyle Kesik
14 Connor Scott
26 Evan Hodgson
24 Danny Washbrook
13 Jordie Hedges
27 Jack Brown
2 Richard Owen
22 Brad Foster
29 Jez Litten

Tries: Chrimes (14), Kesik (20), Tali (60), Bower (73), Scott (79)
Goals: Beharrell (4/5), Litten (1/1)

Referee: Michael Mannifield
HT: 0-14
Attendance: 372

Report: Oldham 46-30 North Wales Crusaders

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders’ three-match winning run came to an end as a patched-up side fell to a respectable defeat at high-flying Oldham.

Oldham is always a difficult place to visit but, with four regular first-team players absent and Earl Hurst limping off after two minutes, it made life a whole lot harder for Crusaders.

However, North Wales were never too far out of reach and led 10-6 as the match entered the second quarter.

Despite the home side getting a grip of the game and leading 34-14 at one stage in the second-half, Crusaders continued to dig in there.

But, as they were chasing the game, Oldham took advantage of any errors and secured the two points.

Crusaders opened the scoring when they shifted the ball to the left, Jack Houghton made a half break and manged to pop a nice offload out to Ben Stead, who touched down out wide.

After receiving back-to-back penalties, though, Oldham hit back as they went to the right flank and Richie Hawkyard exploited a gap to cross.

However, the visitors were soon back in the ascendency and, when they were awarded a penalty as Oldham moved off the mark, they opted to kick for goal, with Stead giving them a two-point lead.

In Crusaders’ next attacking set, Stead lofted a high kick into the air and Rob Massam was taken out off the ball. With a penalty in good field position, Stead added on another two points, taking the advantage to 10-6.

But Oldham responded well with two tries in quick succession to put themselves in front for the first time in the game.

Following another set of back-to-back penalties, Danny Bridge managed to squeeze his way over down the left.

Although the home side nearly fumbled the kick-off, Lee Kershaw collected the ball, rounded Dave Eccleston and had the pace to break down the left wing, touching down in the corner.

Oldham then extended their lead to 22-10, with Hawkyard exploiting another gap to cross for his second of the afternoon.

It didn’t take long for the hosts to add another in the second-half as Dave Hewitt made a break and put Matty Wilkinson over on his inside.

However, Crusaders responded and a couple of nice offloads in the middle of the park created the space for Simon Atherton to cross in the right corner.

After Atherton went close to grabbing another, with Oldham halting him short of the line, the home side went over through Phil Joy, who bulldozed his way over from close range.

As the game looked to be getting away from North Wales, the Wrexham side managed to get themselves back within range after two tries in quick succession.

Matt Reid made a break down the left and, despite being stopped in his tracks, he passed to Massam, who had the strength to dive over in the left corner.

In the next set from the kick-off, Crusaders shifted the ball to the right, Eccleston chipped inside and Dec Gregory was in the right place to collect the ball, dotting down next to the sticks.

As the away side chased the game, though, they came up with an error and Harry Aaronson collected to race clear.

Aaronson then grabbed his second late on, finishing acrobatically in the right corner after Oldham had created numbers out wide.

But it was Crusaders who had the final say, with Massam somehow collecting a high kick to wrestle his way over in the corner.

Richie Hawkyard
Lee Kershaw
Zack McComb
Cameron Leeming
Harry Aaronson
Adam Brook
Dave Hewitt
Phil Joy
Gareth Owen
Jack Spencer
Danny Bridge
Danny Langtree
Liam Bent
Scott Law
Emmerson Whittel
Matty Wilkinson
Ben Calland

Tries: Hawkyard (13, 34), Bridge (26), Kershaw (28), Wilkinson (42), Joy (52), Aaronson (68, 75)
Goals: Hewitt (7/8)

Dante Morley-Samuels
Dave Eccleston
Matt Reid
Earl Hurst
Rob Massam
Steve Roper
Ben Stead
Brad Brennan
Karl Ashall
Jonny Walker
Jack Houghton
Simon Atherton
Alex Eckley
Dec Gregory
Alex Thompson
Callum Hazzard
Warren Thompson

Tries: Stead (5), Atherton (48), Massam (60, 77), Gregory (62),
Goals: Stead 5/7

Referee: Liam Staveley
HT: 22-10
Attendance: 616

Report: North Wales Crusaders 30-18 Workington Town

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders gave their play-off hopes a major boost as they extended their winning run to three matches by beating Workington Town, drawing level on points with the Cumbrians at the same time.

After Workington had taken the lead within the first ten minutes, the response from Crusaders was fantastic thereafter and they dominated for the remainder of the match.

As was the case in the victory over Keighley Cougars the weekend before, North Wales managed the game professionally, particularly in the second-half, and stood up well in defence to snuff out the danger whenever Town asked any questions of them.

The hosts went closest to opening the scoring as Steve Roper tried to put Simon Atherton through the line with a short ball, but Town covered well and managed to halt the attack.

Workington then took the lead when, after two Crusaders errors had given them back-to-back sets, Carl Forber dummied his way through the line to finish next to the sticks.

When North Wales found themselves in good field position, they were given a penalty, opted to kick for goal and Ben Stead reduced the deficit to four points.

It proved to be the right decision as Crusaders scored in the next set from the kick-off, with Kenny Hughes breaking the line and Stead supporting to finish off the move.

The home side continued to pile on the pressure and added another when Kenny Baker popped out a smart offload for Steve Roper to touch down.

At this stage, the momentum was with Crusaders and a third try followed soon after as Dante Morley-Samuels had space down the left flank and did well to dive over in the corner.

With North Wales searching for further points, they attempted to play expansively, but the ball went to ground and Workington broke upfield for Perry Singleton to cross.

In the early stages of the second half, Atherton broke the line and Dec Gregory carried the ball further forward, but Workington were penalised for holding down as he tried to get a quick play-the-ball.

Crusaders opted to kick for goal and Stead was successful with the boot, giving the hosts an eight-point advantage.

For the next 20 minutes or so, there was little action near either side’s goal line and North Wales defended their edges astutely whenever Workington pushed forward.

As the match entered the final quarter, Crusaders built on their lead when space opened up down the left, Baker hit a great line and managed to pop a pass out to Morley-Samuels, who dotted the ball down in the corner.

North Wales then put the result beyond any doubt as Baker picked up the ball down the left and twisted his way over out wide.

Town grabbed a consolation on the full-time hooter when Declan O’Donnell collected a tricky grubber kick to touch down underneath the sticks.

1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Matt Reid
4 Earl Hurst
5 Dante Morley-Samuels
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
8 Brad Brennan
14 Kenny Hughes
17 Jonny Walker
11 Kenny Baker
12 Simon Atherton
13 Stephen Wild
15 Dec Gregory
18 Jack Houghton
21 Callum Hazzard
10 Warren Thompson

Tries: Stead (17), Roper (25), Morley-Samuels (30, 63), Baker (70)
Goals: Stead 5/7

2 Tyllar Mellor
16 Scott Rooke
21 Tyler Lancaster
4 Perry Singleton
Russell Bolton
6 Jamie Doran
7 Carl Forber
25 Fuifui Moimoi
9 Sean Penkywicz
14 Andrew Dawson
10 Stevie Scholey
11 Danny Tickle
22 Sam Hopkins
17 Declan O’Donnell
20 Jonathan Walsh
15 Tom Curwen
8 Oliver Wilkes

Tries: Forber (9), Singleton (35), O’Donnell (80)
Goals: Forber 3/3

Referee: John McMullen
HT: 18-12
Attendance: 363
MOTM: Simon Atherton – it’s difficult to single out one player for Crusaders, but he asked plenty of questions of Workington throughout with his attacking play.

Report: North Wales Crusaders U13s 30-18 Thatto Heath Crusaders U13s

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders U13s deservedly edged high-flying Thatto Heath Crusaders 30-18 in a thoroughly-absorbing and high-quality contest at Queensway Stadium.

Thatto had been in cracking form of late, while Crusaders had been playing reasonably well without getting the results.

The away side started the game quickly and were 12-0 up inside the first ten minutes.

However, Crusaders’ tricky games of late had seen them build up some real mental toughness and this came to the fore as they got back into the match with two quick-fire scores of their own, reducing the arrears to 12-8.

The home team were beginning to get the upper hand and put their visitors under some real pressure both with and without the ball.

Right on half-time, though, Thatto were awarded a penalty and opted to take two points to give them a 14-8 advantage at the break.

Despite this, it was the home side who looked the happier at the interval.

The second-half saw North Wales really get stuck into Thatto with strong, direct attacks and some tough defence.

The home side were well on top at this stage and Thatto had to work overtime in defence to hold out a Crusaders side full of confidence and playing some lovely rugby league.

North Wales’ middles were terrific all game with punishing carries and tough defence and the edges were much improved, shutting down any space and joining in some strong, varied and sustained attacks.

The home side built up a 30-14 advantage and, despite a late Thatto try, they ran out deserved victors in a tremendous game, which was played hard and tough but in great spirit.

U13s head coach Allen Jones was delighted with how his side bounced back after a June packed full of tough fixtures.

“This was without doubt our best performance of the season,” he said.

“We showed some real resilience to come back from 12 points down against a team who were bang in form and not only catch them, but also pull away quite emphatically.

“The boys deserve a lot of credit for not only this performance, but also the way they have played and stuck at it in what has been a tough month for them.”

This was a complete performance from all 17 players, with three or four exceptional individual efforts.