A depleted North Wales Crusaders concluded their pre-season with a 36-0 defeat at Championship club Whitehaven.  

After travelling to Cumbria with 17 players due to a mix of injuries and unavailability, Matt Reid pulled up during the warm-up, leaving Anthony Murray with only three interchanges to use.

Despite having to play a number of players out of position, particularly when others hobbled off during the game, North Wales put up a good fight.

Ultimately, though, Whitehaven ran away with it towards the end and three tries in the final eight minutes perhaps made the defeat heavier than Crusaders deserved.

After dealing with some Haven pressure in the opening couple of minutes, North Wales did eventually concede when Sam Forrester broke through the line and forced his way over.

It didn’t take long for the hosts to build on their advantage as they created an overlap down the right for Jessie Joe Parker to cross.

Even though Crusaders had spells of pressure afterwards, they failed to capitalise on them and the Cumbrians then added another to take a 16-0 half-time lead.

Karl Dixon broke through the line and dodged past a number of attempted tackles on his way to finishing underneath the sticks.

In the early stages of the second-half, Whitehaven grabbed their fourth of the afternoon as Andrew Bulman collected a grubber kick to touch down in the left corner.

North Wales forced a couple of repeat sets, thanks to some neat grubber kicks from Jordy Gibson, but Haven repelled anything the Welshmen through at them.

With Crusaders having the better of the game at this stage, an attacking play went to ground and Bulman gathered the ball to race 80 metres upfield, diving over in the corner to effectively kill off the contest.

Forrester then completed his brace as he exploited space down the right to dot the ball down on the line.

And Callum Phillips rounded up the scoring for the afternoon, collecting a nice offload from Jamie Thackray to finish under the sticks.

1 Sam Forrester
5 Andrew Bulman
23 Jason Mossop
4 Jessie Joe Parker
2 Dave Thompson
6 Karl Dixon
9 Callum Phillips
10 Kris Coward
14 Sam Dowsett
24 Ethan Kelly
19 Ellis Gillam
12 Jake Moore
20 Jake Bradley
11 Brett Phillips
13 Dion Aiye
8 Marc Shackley
25 Jamie Thackray
17 Tom Walker
3 Chris Taylor
18 James Newton
16 Tom Wilkinson

Tries: Forrester (6, 76), Joe Parker (10), Dixon (31), Bulman (47, 72), Phillips (80)
Goals: Moore 4/6, Dixon 0/1

1 Tommy Johnson
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Jordan Penny
4 Jack Holmes
5 Joey Brady
6 Elliott Jenkins
7 Jordy Gibson
8 Brad Brennan
14 Brad Billsborough
13 Jack Cottington
10 Ryan Millington
12 Gav Rodden
17 James Tilley
9 Steve Roper
15 Dante Morley-Samuels
16 Jordan Olmez

Referee: John McMullen
HT: 16-0
Attendance: 346
Crusaders MOTM: Tommy Johnson – Crusaders’ all-time leading points-scorer made a lot of yards carrying the ball forward from fullback, while dealing well with a number of testing kicks during Whitehaven’s spells of pressure.

Photograph: Ben Challis

NWC Rugby League