NORTH WALES CRUSADERS lost 28-14 at home to top-of-the-table Whitehaven, despite staging a second-half comeback.
The visitors didn’t need to do anything particularly pretty, but they made good yards up the middle and were clinical whenever they found themselves in decent field position, especially in the first-half.
After Haven had found themselves 24-2 up, Crusaders brought the score back to within ten points and had the better of the game for most of the second-half.
Ultimately, though, they left it too late and it was Haven’s extra bit of quality when it mattered that proved to be the difference.
Whitehaven had the first opportunity of the match as they assaulted the left flank, but Andrew Bulman was forced into touch as he tried to dive over in the corner.
Rob Massam had a similar effort chalked off for Crusaders as Haven’s right edge defence did well to keep out the Welsh international winger.
Crusaders were then given a penalty for interference in the ruck and opted to kick for goal, with Ben Stead giving the hosts a 2-0 lead.
Haven soon responded, though, as Sam Forrester broke through North Wales’ defence and fended off a couple of tackles on his way to the line.
In their next set near Crusaders’ line, the visitors built on their advantage when hooker Sam Dowsett managed to crash over from acting half down the left flank.
After a sustained spell of pressure on the away side’s line, North Wales were pulled up for two penalties and Haven opted to kick the second one, with Jacob Moore extending the lead to 12-2.
Haven assaulted the left side once again and Chris Taylor managed to force his way over in the corner, despite the attention of a few Crusaders defenders.
The visitors attempted to stretch their lead by another two points on the half-time hooter, but Moore’s kick flew wide of the sticks.
In the early stages of the second half, North Wales conceded a penalty for an incorrect play-the-ball while in possession, with Moore kicking a goal to take Haven’s lead to 18-2.
It didn’t take long for the Cumbrians to add another try as they chipped over the defence on the last play, Jessie Joe Parker collected and he handed the ball on to Callum Phillips, who had enough pace to finish next to the sticks.
However, North Wales hit back through captain Kenny Baker, who run on to a short pass from Kenny Hughes to bulldoze his way over.
It was game on soon after as Crusaders added another, with Massam collecting Steve Roper’s kick to the corner to dive over.
Although North Wales put further pressure on Haven’s line, the away side wrapped the match up late on through Bulman, who managed to wrestle his way out of a tackle and finish acrobatically in the corner.
1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Dante Morley-Samuels
4 Earl Hurst
5 Rob Massam
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
8 Callum Hazzard
9 Karl Ashall
10 Warren Thompson
11 Simon Atherton
12 Matt Reid
13 Kenny Baker
14 Kenny Hughes
15 Jacob Thomas
17 Brad Brennan
21 Chris Worrall
Tries: Baker (55), Massam (58)
Goals: Stead 1/1, Baker 2/2
3 Chris Taylor
2 Jordan Burns
23 Jason Mossop
4 Jessie Joe Parker
19 Andrew Bulman
1 Sam Forrester
7 Callum Phillips
8 Marc Shackley
14 Sam Dowsett
10 Kris Coward
11 Brett Phillips
12 Jacob Moore
13 Tom Wilkinson
6 Dion Aiye
15 Connor Holliday
9 James Newton
Tries: Forrester (16), Dowsett (18), Taylor (38), Phillips (48), Bulman (78)
Goals: Moore 3/6, Holliday 0/1
Referee: Joe Stearne
MOTM: Callum Hazzard – the prop worked hard in the forwards and continued his sound form.