North Wales Crusaders gave their play-off hopes a major boost as they extended their winning run to three matches by beating Workington Town, drawing level on points with the Cumbrians at the same time.
After Workington had taken the lead within the first ten minutes, the response from Crusaders was fantastic thereafter and they dominated for the remainder of the match.
As was the case in the victory over Keighley Cougars the weekend before, North Wales managed the game professionally, particularly in the second-half, and stood up well in defence to snuff out the danger whenever Town asked any questions of them.
The hosts went closest to opening the scoring as Steve Roper tried to put Simon Atherton through the line with a short ball, but Town covered well and managed to halt the attack.
Workington then took the lead when, after two Crusaders errors had given them back-to-back sets, Carl Forber dummied his way through the line to finish next to the sticks.
When North Wales found themselves in good field position, they were given a penalty, opted to kick for goal and Ben Stead reduced the deficit to four points.
It proved to be the right decision as Crusaders scored in the next set from the kick-off, with Kenny Hughes breaking the line and Stead supporting to finish off the move.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure and added another when Kenny Baker popped out a smart offload for Steve Roper to touch down.
At this stage, the momentum was with Crusaders and a third try followed soon after as Dante Morley-Samuels had space down the left flank and did well to dive over in the corner.
With North Wales searching for further points, they attempted to play expansively, but the ball went to ground and Workington broke upfield for Perry Singleton to cross.
In the early stages of the second half, Atherton broke the line and Dec Gregory carried the ball further forward, but Workington were penalised for holding down as he tried to get a quick play-the-ball.
Crusaders opted to kick for goal and Stead was successful with the boot, giving the hosts an eight-point advantage.
For the next 20 minutes or so, there was little action near either side’s goal line and North Wales defended their edges astutely whenever Workington pushed forward.
As the match entered the final quarter, Crusaders built on their lead when space opened up down the left, Baker hit a great line and managed to pop a pass out to Morley-Samuels, who dotted the ball down in the corner.
North Wales then put the result beyond any doubt as Baker picked up the ball down the left and twisted his way over out wide.
Town grabbed a consolation on the full-time hooter when Declan O’Donnell collected a tricky grubber kick to touch down underneath the sticks.
1 Lewis Fairhurst
2 Dave Eccleston
3 Matt Reid
4 Earl Hurst
5 Dante Morley-Samuels
6 Steve Roper
7 Ben Stead
8 Brad Brennan
14 Kenny Hughes
17 Jonny Walker
11 Kenny Baker
12 Simon Atherton
13 Stephen Wild
15 Dec Gregory
18 Jack Houghton
21 Callum Hazzard
10 Warren Thompson
Tries: Stead (17), Roper (25), Morley-Samuels (30, 63), Baker (70)
Goals: Stead 5/7
2 Tyllar Mellor
16 Scott Rooke
21 Tyler Lancaster
4 Perry Singleton
6 Jamie Doran
7 Carl Forber
25 Fuifui Moimoi
9 Sean Penkywicz
14 Andrew Dawson
10 Stevie Scholey
11 Danny Tickle
22 Sam Hopkins
17 Declan O’Donnell
20 Jonathan Walsh
15 Tom Curwen
8 Oliver Wilkes
Tries: Forber (9), Singleton (35), O’Donnell (80)
Goals: Forber 3/3
Referee: John McMullen
MOTM: Simon Atherton – it’s difficult to single out one player for Crusaders, but he asked plenty of questions of Workington throughout with his attacking play.