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North Wales Crusaders kept the pressure on Workington Town in the race for the play-offs as they completed the Welsh derby double over West Wales Raiders.

From the first minute until the last, Crusaders were the superior side and, after finding themselves 16-0 up inside the opening 22 minutes, it was always going to be a case of how many points they would go on to record.

It was clear that West Wales had made strides since the meeting earlier in the season at Queensway Stadium, but North Wales stuck to their game plan and gradually wore down the Raiders.

Anthony Murray’s men had a lot of joy up the middle, with the forward pack proving too much for the Llanelli side to handle throughout the afternoon.

Crusaders opened the scoring when Ben Stead picked up the ball at acting half and scooted over the line.

It didn’t take long for North Wales to build on their lead as Dave Eccleston took the first carry from a scrum, shrugging off a number of tackles to crash over.

The third score of the day came through Warren Thompson, who hit a nice line to break through the Raiders’ defence and touch down next to the posts.

West Wales did hit back, however, with a real inventive piece of play.

Welsh international Steve Parry collected the ball on the last, hacked the ball forward with his boot to keep the play alive and a nice offload near the line put Mitchell Shaw over.

But Crusaders were soon back in the ascendency and Eccleston thought he was in for his second, only to be pushed into touch by a fine last-ditch tackle from Parry.

Steve Roper did add another for the visitors, though, as he threw an outrageous dummy to fool West Wales’ defence and dive over.

Eccleston then managed to grab his second, collecting a looping pass to the wing from Lewis Fairhurst to dot the ball down in the corner.

On the half-time hooter, Roper lofted a high kick to the left flank, West Wales dropped the ball in the in-goal area and Alex Eckley gratefully collected to score.

Crusaders picked up in the second half where they’d left off in the first and Dec Gregory’s nice cut-out pass put Joe Ryan over from close range.

After being awarded a number of penalties, the Raiders found themselves camped on North Wales’ line for the next ten minutes or so, but they couldn’t take advantage and the away side made them pay.

A simple drop-off pass from Roper put Dante Morley-Samuels over down the right flank.

Rob Massam then got in on the act as she showed brute strength to knock off a couple of attempted tackles, diving in at the left corner.

But West Wales hit back and crossed for two tries in the space of three minutes.

Parry scooted over from acting half, before the Raiders kept the ball alive with numerous offloads for Archie Snook to touch down.

However, North Wales soon took control again and Massam added his second, beating every man in front of him to bulldoze his way over next to the sticks.

Fairhurst rounded off the scoring as he collected Earl Hurst’s flick pass to score in the left corner.

Phil Cowburn
Sam Baker
Ash Bateman
Archie Snook
Rowland Kaye
Steve Parry
Matthew Morgan
Aneurin Walker
Mitchell Shaw
Dalton Desmond-Walker
Dan Maiden
Gioele Celerino
Morgan Evans
Alan Pope
Joe McClean
Callum Mulkeen
Liam Rice-Wilson

Tries: Shaw (28), Parry (72), Snook (75)
Goals: Cowburn 1/3

Lewis Fairhurst
Dave Eccleston
Dante Morley-Samuels
Earl Hurst
Rob Massam
Steve Roper
Elliott Jenkins
Brad Brennan
Ben Stead
Warren Thompson
Alex Eckley
Matt Reid
Alex Thompson
Dec Gregory
Jonny Walker
James Tilley
Joe Ryan

Tries: Stead (10), Eccleston (13, 39), W Thompson (22), Roper (33), Eckley (40), Ryan (47), Morley-Samuels (60), Massam (68, 77), Fairhurst (80)
Goals: Stead 3/5, Roper 1/3, Fairhurst 2/3

Referee: Bradley Milligan
HT: 6-30
Attendance: 272
MOTM: Dave Eccleston – the winger continued his recent string of excellent performances, making plenty of metres going forward and grabbing two tries.