North Wales Crusaders fell to their first defeat of the League 1 campaign as they failed to recover from three Hunslet tries shortly before half-time.

After leading 6-0 on the half hour mark, Crusaders conceded 18 points in the next ten minutes.

Ultimately, that proved to be the difference as, despite putting Hunslet’s line under pressure in the second-half, they couldn’t find a way past a stubborn home defence.

Dom Brambani, who was outstanding throughout the contest, came up with a decisive drop-goal and try late on to kill off the game.

North Wales had an opportunity early on when Jordy Gibson drilled in a grubber kick towards Elliott Jenkins, but the Welsh international halfback dropped the ball near the line.

After Dave Eccleston had broken the line and raced upfield, Hunslet were penalised for holding down and Ben Heaton was sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes.

Crusaders made the most of their man advantage and space opened up down the left for Dante Morley-Samuels to put Rob Massam over in the corner.

Once Hunslet were back with 13 men, however, they began to turn the screw and got a foothold in the game.

Dom Brambani drew the hosts level as he stepped the line to cross next to the sticks.

In a similar left to right move, Duane Straugheir hit a nice line to break through Crusaders’ defence, forcing his way over.

With a matter of seconds left until the half-time hooter, Hunslet added their third through Jordan Andrade, who collected Brambani’s grubber kick to touch down.

North Wales started the second-half well and Rob Massam tried to force his way over in the left corner, but Hunslet managed to force him into touch.

Jordy Gibson’s grubber kick then created an opening down the right, only for Hunslet’s left edge to make it to the ball before Matt Reid and knock it dead.

Within a minute, Brambani slotted over a drop-goal to extend their lead to 19-6.

Kiedan Hartley then capitalised on some space down the left to bulldoze his way over from acting half.

Rob Massam had another couple of opportunities down the left, but he couldn’t find his way over and Hunslet grabbed a fifth through the impressive Brambani, who exploited a gap in Crusaders’ defence to touch down.

1 Jimmy Watson
2 Ben Markland
3 Ben Heaton
4 Tom Aston
18 Kiedan Hartley
6 Simon Barown
7 Dom Brambani
Alex Rowe
9 Jack Lee
10 Harry Kidd
12 Josh Tonks
11 Duane Straugheir
13 Vila Halafihi
20 Nathan Conroy
14 Jack Aldous
17 Jordan Andrade
18 Harvey Hallas

Tries: Brambani (30, 69), Straugheir (33), Andrade (40), Hartley (63)
Goals: Brambani 4/5
Drop-goals: Brambani

1 Tommy Johnson
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Jordan Penny
4 Dante Morley-Samuels
5 Rob Massam
6 Elliott Jenkins
7 Jordy Gibson
8 Brad Brennan
9 Brad Billsborough
10 Warren Thompson
11 Matt Reid
12 Gav Rodden
13 Chris Barratt
14 Kieran Sherratt
15 Ryan Millington
16 Jack Cottington
17 James Tilley

Tries: Massam (15)
Goals: Johnson 1/1

Referee: Tom Crashley
HT: 18-6
Attendance: 501
MOTM: Ryan Millington – the forward ran hard all game and gave Crusaders a lot of go forward.

NWC Rugby League