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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.

Report: Whitehaven 22-24 North Wales Crusaders

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders struck twice in the final five minutes to clinch a dramatic victory at top-of-the-table Whitehaven.

If the Rugby Football League want to present a match to show how competitive League 1 can be, they wouldn’t go far wrong with this clash.

Crusaders matched top-of-the-table Haven from start to finish in what was a real hard-fought battle.

North Wales were probably unfortunate to find themselves behind at half-time, but they showed plenty of determination and class when it mattered to take home the two points.

Crusaders went close early on as Lewis Fairhurst dummied his way through the line to cross down the left, but the referee ruled it out for an obstruction in the build-up.

Whitehaven then began to grow into the game and opened the scoring when Marc Shackley gathered a nice offload near the line to touch down underneath the sticks.

However, North Wales responded well and Earl Hurst dived over down the left, collecting Karl Ashall’s pass after he had opted to run the ball down the short side.

Within a couple of minutes, the visitors found themselves ahead as captain Kenny Baker dummied his way past a couple of tackles to dot the ball down on the whitewash.

After Crusaders had started to take control of the match, penalties started to creep into their game and it gave Haven a good chance to muster some decent field position.

The home side took advantage as Callum Phillips put Scott McAvoy over from close range.

McAvoy then added his second of the afternoon, forcing his way over the line down the right.

But North Wales pulled one back shortly before half-time when Rob Massam leaped highest to collect Steve Roper’s kick, grounding in the left corner.

In the early stages of the second-half, Crusaders went close as Matt Reid attempted to tip Roper’s kick back to Dante Morley-Samuels, but it went forward.

Whitehaven then had an effort ruled out, with Andrew Bulman adjudged to have knocked on as he tried to touch down in the corner.

Brad Brennan attempted to bulldoze his way over underneath the sticks for North Wales, but the referee called a knock on.

In an entertaining game, the chances kept coming and Whitehaven should have built on their lead, but Phillips dropped Sam Forrester’s pass with the line begging.

Although Phillips made up for the missed opportunity as he crossed down the right, Crusaders went over for two tries in the final five minutes to secure a memorable win.

For the first, they shifted the ball to the left flank and Hurst put Massam over in the corner for his second.

Despite Fairhurst missing the conversion, it didn’t matter as North Wales broke upfield from the kick-off and Reid supplied the final pass for Karl Ashall to touch down.

Chris Taylor
Andrew Bulman
Jason Mossop
Jessie Joe Parker
Dave Thompson
Sam Forrester
Callum Phillips
Marc Shackley
Sam Dowsett
Carl Forster
Jake Moore
Scott McAvoy
Tom Wilkinson
Dion Aiye
Connor Holliday
Ethan Kelly
James Newton

Tries: Shackley (15), McAvoy (31,35), Phillips (69)
Goals: Moore 3/3, Holliday 0/1

Lewis Fairhurst
Dante Morley-Samuels
Matt Reid
Earl Hurst
Rob Massam
Steve Roper
Ryan Smith
Jonny Walker
Karl Ashall
Brad Brennan
Jack Houghton
Stephen Wild
Kenny Baker
Kenny Hughes
Warren Thompson
Callum Hazzard
Joe Ryan

Tries: Hurst (22), Baker (26), Massam (39, 75), Ashall (79)
Goals: Fairhurst 2/5

Referee: Nick Bennett
HT: 18-16
Attendance: 781
MOTM: Jonny Walker – the forward worked tirelessly all afternoon and had to find another gear when Brad Brennan left the field with concussion.

Report: Salford City Roosters U13s 28-16 North Wales Crusaders U13s

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders U13’s long, 13-match unbeaten run came to an end last weekend as they were beaten 28-16 by a well-organised and committed Salford City Roosters side.

From the kick-off, the Roosters were quicker and more aggressive than Crusaders and had the visitors on the back foot for most of the first-half.

At times, Crusaders were just about hanging on as they had to absorb attack after attack from the home side.

Tries from backrowers Joe Jones and Greg Thomas had North Wales trailing 16-8 on the half-time hooter, but Crusaders come up with a handling error just metres from their own tryline.

It gave the Roosters the opportunity to score with the final play of the half, taking a 22-8 advantage into the break with what turned out to be a decisive moment.

The second-half saw a much more aggressive Crusaders come out and the game turned into a real, absorbing contest between two evenly-matched and committed sides.

Crusaders actually wrestled the game away from the Roosters for much of the half, but some handling errors and a couple of poor decisions in the home side’s half relaxed the pressure they were beginning to apply.

North Wales edged the second-half in terms of the score, but the half-time deficit was just too much to make up against a very good Roosters side who fully deserved to take the spoils.

Jones and Thomas both crossed for two tries and were well-supported by Lewis Spiers Elwin, Josh Williams, Will Buttress, Tom Himsworth and Cameron Long.

This was an excellent game of junior rugby league and a great advert for the North West Counties League.

It was played hard, tough, in a very good spirit and both teams can be very proud of their efforts and discipline.

Coach Allen Jones said: “I’ve got no quibbles about the result as the best team were deserved victors on the day.

“Our much-improved showing in the second-half was testament to the desire that the boys have to never give in.

“They did themselves some justice in the second-half with a performance of real guts and determination.

“It was inevitable that we were going to lose a game at some point and it’s now about how we respond to the setback.”

Crusaders U13s have another tough game coming up with a cup semi-final away to a much-improved Thatto Heath Crusaders.

Report: Crusaders A 26-30 Garswood Stags

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders A came agonisingly close to toppling joint leaders Garswood Stags on Saturday in a thrilling Division Four clash at Shotton Steel RFC.

The visitors, beaten only once in the league this season, went into an early 12-0 lead.

Although Reece Owens then crossed out wide for Crusaders, Garswood hit back with their third try on 25 minutes following quick cross-field passing from right to left.

At 18-4 down, it looked like it was going to be a tough afternoon for the home side, but they fought back well and, six minutes before the interval, Alfie Matthias broke clear down the left for a try.

For the rest of the half and a good 30 minutes of the second period, Crusaders were the better side, making ground well and maintaining possession.

After a prolonged period in attack, Crusaders finally broke through in the 57th minute with three tries in a ten-minute spell.

The Stags were clearly rattled and forced into errors, giving away penalties.

Geraint Jones scored the first followed by Dylan Rowe and Elliot Long. All were with powerful try-scoring runs.

Leading 26-18, Crusaders needed good game management and composure to hold out but, as in recent games, they failed to close out the crucial late stages.

Visiting scrum-half Rob Spurr burst over under the posts and, to make matters worse, Crusaders’ Billy Forrester was dismissed in the aftermath of the try.

Scenting victory, the visitors threw everything into attack and outstanding centre Adam Watson shook off several tackles around the halfway line, with his pace doing the rest to score the winning try.

But the drama wasn’t over with Crusaders camped on the Garswood line in a frantic final minute.

There were knock-ons by either side and, on the last play of the game, a home kick to the corner just rolled dead in-goal to the relief of the visitors and their coach Paul Loughlin, once a star of St Helens and Great Britain.

Steve Griffiths, returning strongly after a first half-injury, Luca Owen-Youens and Ryan Turner were outstanding for the home side, with Callum Leonard’s hard work always putting Garswood on the back foot.

Despite the defeat, Crusaders nevertheless should be proud of their efforts and, in the end with five tries apiece, the margin came down to kicks at goal and a lack of composure at the finish.

Tries: Owens, Matthias, Jones, Rowe, Long
Goals: Turner (3)

Report: Coventry Bears 18-34 North Wales Crusaders

By | Match Report

North Wales Crusaders got back to winning ways in League 1 with a dogged 34-18 victory over Coventry Bears.

Anthony Murray’s men led for the vast majority of the game, but they were never out of reach as Coventry continually pegged them back.

However, Crusaders crossed twice in the final five minutes to wrap up a deserved victory, which has taken them up to eighth in the table and only three points behind Newcastle Thunder in fifth.

The Bears opened the scoring early on as North Wales coughed up possession in good ball area, the hosts hacked the ball upfield and Reece Rance had the pace to break clear, finishing in the right corner.

They were then reduced to 12 men for ten minutes as Kameron Pearce-Paul was sent to the sin-bin for a trip.

Rob Massam thought he was over down the left flank, but his effort was chalked off for a forward pass in the build-up.

Crusaders did manage to hit back, though, as they put on a nice left to right shift for Dave Eccleston to cut inside and touch down.

The visitors took the lead when Steve Roper drilled in a grubber kick, it bounced off a Coventry man and captain Kenny Baker gathered to dive over next to the sticks.

In the closing stages of the first-half, North Wales had a man sent to the sin-bin as Kenny Hughes was penalised for a tackle off the ball.

Crusaders made the perfect start to the second-half, with Massam cutting inside from the left wing to force his way over.

However, the Bears’ response was swift as Lewis Taylor crashed over down the right following a good run from Rance.

But the away side re-established their ten-point advantage when Massam profited from some good play to keep the ball alive, grabbing his second of the afternoon.

After a couple of repeat sets near Crusaders’ line, though, Coventry reduced the deficit to four points once again, with Elliot Hall finding his way over down the left.

As the game entered the final ten minutes, Murray’s side closed the match out well and scored two quick-fire tries to confirm the win.

Warren Thompson collected a pass near the line to bulldoze his way over next to the posts.

Simon Atherton then broke down the right, dummied his way past a tackle and handed inside to Karl Ashall, who had a walk-in effort under the sticks.

1 Elliot Hall
2 Hayden Freeman
3 Kadeem Williams
4 Kameron Pearce-Paul
5 Reece Rance
6 Brad Sheridan
7 Nick Newman
8 Peter Ryan
9 Nathan Conroy
10 Lewis Taylor
11 Jacob Jones
12 Kieran Sheratt
13 Chris Barratt
14 Sam Davis
15 Harry Kaufman
16 Will Tully
21 Martyn Reilly

Tries: Rance (5), Taylor (49), Hall (60)
Goals: Newman 3/3

1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Simon Atherton
4 Earl Hurst
5 Rob Massam
6 Steve Roper
7 Ryan Smith
8 Callum Hazzard
9 Karl Ashall
10 Warren Thompson
11 Matt Reid
12 Stephen Wild
13 Kenny Baker
14 Kenny Hughes
15 Brad Brennan
16 Jonny Walker
17 Liam Walsh

Tries: Eccleston (22), Baker (32), Massam (42, 54), Thompson (75), Ashall (78)
Goals: Baker 2/3, Fairhurst 3/3

Referee: Liam Staveley
HT: 6-12
Attendance: 395

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.