Despite playing 50 minutes with 12 men, North Wales Crusaders put in a dogged display and held their own at Rochdale Hornets as two tries in the final ten minutes were needed to secure a 22-12 victory for the home side.

Up until the 70thminute, Anthony Murray’s side were in the match and coped well with Rochdale’s man advantage, having some good opportunities themselves while in decent field position.

But the amount of defending took its toll and the late scores saw North Wales fall to defeat in their final pre-season outing.

Crusaders started the match well and both Rob Massam and Jono Smith went close with darts to the line inside the opening ten minutes.

After Lewis Galbraith was sent to the sin-bin for a late hit on Alex Eckley, North Wales took the lead as they shifted the ball to the right and Ben Morris came up with a lovely tip-on pass for Patrick Ah Van to cross in the corner.

Some fantastic left-edge defence from Crusaders forced Rochdale winger Lee Registe into touch, before the Welshmen built on their advantage as Callum Hazzard was put through the line on halfway and had the legs to round the Hornets’ fullback Sam Freeman.

The turning point in the match came next as Tommy Johnson tried to stop a Rochdale man near the line and was sent off for a high tackle.

Even though Crusaders defended wave after wave of attack as half-time approached, they did crack eventually, with Ben Calland collecting a kick into the in-goal area to dot the ball down.

In the early stages of the second-half, Rochdale took the lead for the first time as Josh Jordon-Roberts made a break and had Danny Yates in support on the inside to finish underneath the sticks.

While Crusaders weren’t able to get over for another during a spell of pressure, they did opt to kick for goal when they received a penalty, with Karl Ashall bringing his side level at 12-12.

North Wales then had another opening as Morris’ offload allowed Gav Rodden to break forward, but he came up with an error deep in Rochdale’s half as he looked to pass out of the tackle.

When the Hornets went up the other end, Callum Marriott took advantage of space down the right to force his way over, nudging Rochdale ahead again.

Registe then collected a kick to the left wing and dived over in the corner to complete the afternoon’s scoring.

HORNETS
1 Sam Freeman
23 Lee Registe
3 Ben Calland
30 Lewis Galbraith
5 Dale Bloomfield
7 Rob Fairclough
15 Danny Yates
10 Gavin Bennion
21 Ben Moores
8 Callum Marriott
11 Josh Jordon-Roberts
12 Jordan Syme
20 Zac Baker
Interchanges:
6 Lewis Sheridan
13 Joe Taira
14 Dec Sheridan
17 Fuifui Moimoi
22 James Connaughton
18 Luke Fowden
29 Ryan Forshaw
24 Ben Forster
16 Adam Hesketh
28 Luke Littlewood
James McDaid
27 Dan Nixon
19 Callum Ogden
26 Liam Whalley

Tries: Calland (38), Yates (49), Marriott (70) Registe (75)
Goals: Jordon Roberts 2/2, Fairclough 1/2
Sin-bin: Galbraith (13)

CRUSADERS
1 Tommy Johnson
15 Patrick Ah Van
3 Ben Morris
4 Earl Hurst
5 Rob Massam
6 Brad Billsborough
7 Jordy Gibson
10 Warren Thompson
9 Karl Ashall
16 Brad Brennan
13 Jono Smith
11 Gav Rodden
12 Alex Eckley
Interchanges:
14 Andy Ball
8 Chris Barratt
17 Callum Hazzard
2 Jack Holmes
Jack Cottington
Matt Reid
Cam Brown
Brad Calland

Tries: Ah Van (13), Hazzard (23)
Goals: Johnson 1/2, Ashall 1/1
Sent-off: Johnson (30)

Referee: John McMullen
HT: 6-10
Crusaders MOTM: Callum Hazzard – scored a nice try and got through a lot of work at prop, particularly when his side went down to 12 men.