North Wales Crusaders made it four wins on the bounce and maintained their strong position in the League 1 table as they held off a spirited comeback from Coventry Bears.

Many clubs have struggled on their trip to the Midlands this season, but a strong first-half from Crusaders saw them lead 22-4 at the break.

Despite two tries from Coventry making things interesting heading into the closing stages, North Wales dug in and late efforts from Gav Rodden and Tommy Johnson clinched a huge win. 

Crusaders took the lead when Jordy Gibson lofted a high kick into the air, Coventry let it bounce and Rob Massam collected to knock off a couple of attempted tackles, crossing in the left corner. 

On the back of a North Wales error, though, the Bears hit back as they opened up space out wide for Hayden Freeman to squeeze over.

But Crusaders went back ahead soon after, with Warren Thompson breaking through the line and finding Karl Ashall in support to finish off the move.

From the next set, the Welsh side extended their advantage further as Matt Reid broke down the left, handed the ball on to Rodden and he found Jordy Gibson to cross under the sticks.

North Wales added their fourth when Thompson’s offload set Ashall free, with the hooker putting Gibson over for his second.

Rob Massam thought he’d grabbed a brace late in the half, but Gibson’s pass in the build-up was deemed forward. 

Neither side took control in the early stages of the second-half, with both coming up with errors, but Coventry did manage to pull one back eventually as Kieran Hudson hit a great line to finish under the sticks. 

Crusaders then had two tries disallowed in the space of a minute as they had their first decent spell of field position for a long time.

After Pat Ah Van’s effort was ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up, Massam dropped the ball as he looked to cross down the left. 

And Coventry took advantage as they went up the other end to reduce the deficit to six points, with Harry Kaufman breaking the line, rounding Johnson at fullback and having the strength to dive over.

However, North Wales gave themselves some breathing space once again as Rodden squeezed over down the left. 

And the game was put beyond doubt when Johnson exploited another overlap in the left corner.

1 Nathan Hill
2 Elliot Wallis
5 Hayden Freeman
4 Liam Welham
23 Reece Rance
7 Dan Coates
6 Dave Scott
8 Peter Ryan
9 Chris Cullimore
22 Brad Clavering 
12 Kieran Sherratt
25 Jack Dawson
21 Harry Kaufman
15 Will Budd
10 Kieran Hudson
19 Brad Ho
18 Elliott Windley

Tries: Freeman (5), Hudson (50), Kaufman (60)
Goals: Coates 2/3

1 Tommy Johnson
15 Pat Ah Van
3 Ben Morris
4 Matt Reid
5 Rob Massam
6 Matty Race
7 Jordy Gibson
10 Brad Brennan
9 Karl Ashall
18 Warren Thompson
11 Gav Rodden
12 Alex Eckley
13 Chris Barratt
14 Cam Berry
17 Callum Hazzard
8 Ethan Kelly
19 Jack Holmes

Tries: Massam (2), Ashall (12), Gibson (14, 19), Rodden (64), Johnson (77)
Goals: Johnson 4/6

Referee: Craig Smith
HT: 4-22
Crusaders MOTM: Warren Thompson – the prop defended astutely throughout and came up with some good plays in attack, particularly in the first-half. 

NWC Rugby League