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North Wales Crusaders’ first pre-season outing ended in defeat as they were kept scoreless by a stubborn Swinton Lions defence.

The visitors had spells of sustained pressure, particularly in the second-half, only to be met by a water-tight Lions defence whenever they looked for a way over the line.

North Wales were guilty of trying to force the play on occasions, but part of that will come down to the fact that it’s pre-season and attacking structures will take time to come together.

Swinton arguably had the match wrapped up by half-time as they established an 18-0 lead at the break, but there was no doubt about the result when they added a further two quick-fire tries early in the second-half.

The home side opened the scoring in the first couple of minutes when Luke Waterworth made a dart for the line and forced his way over next to the sticks.

Crusaders had some decent field position afterwards, but they failed to take advantage of it and Swinton extended their lead.

A smart bullet pass put Lewis Hatton through the line and he had the pace to round Crusaders’ backline, touching down underneath the sticks.

They added their third soon after as they shifted the ball from left to right and former Crusader Jack Hansen put Daley Williams over out wide.

North Wales then had their best opportunity of the first-half. Ben Stead spotted space down the right flank and dinked a smart grubber kick into the corner, but Gavin Conroy couldn’t reach it and the ball rolled dead.

The Lions continued to ask questions as the first-half drew to a close, but Crusaders stood firm and they trailed 16-0 at the break.

It didn’t take long for Swinton to build on their advantage in the second-half, however, as Frankie Halton broke down the right and Matty Ashton finished off the move.

From the kick-off, the hosts broke upfield through Rhodri Lloyd and he handed the ball on to Mike Butt, who had a simple walk-in effort wide of the posts.

Lloyd again made inroads down the left and chipped the ball over Crusaders’ defence, but Rob Massam was covering and did well to defuse the situation.

North Wales then had a spell of sustained pressure and, after Massam had broken through the heart of Swinton’s defence, the ball dropped to Conroy in a later play, but he couldn’t make it to the line as he cut inside from the wing.

Despite further attempts from Crusaders to get over the whitewash, the Lions stood strong and scoreline remained 26-0.

LIONS
1 Jack Hansen
2 Mike Butt
4 Daley Williams
21 Mike Ratu
25 Matty Ashton
6 Oscar Thomas
7 Rob Fairclough
8 Gavin Bennion
9 Luke Waterworth
10 Lewis Hatton
3 Rhodri Lloyd
22 Frankie Halton
19 Jose Kenga
Subs:
14 Billy Brickhill
5 Ryan Gray
17 Aaron Hall
16 Paddy Jones
18 Chris Worrall
24 Ashley Warne

Tries: Waterworth (2), Hatton (23), Williams (27), Ashton (46), Butt (49)
Goals: Thomas (3/5)

CRUSADERS
1 Aled Davies
2 Gavin Conroy
23 Earl Hurst
4 Matt Reid
5 Rob Massam
6 Steven Roper
22 Ben Stead
8 Brad Brennan
9 Karl Ashall
10 Warren Thompson
11 Jack Houghton
17 Alex Thompson
13 Kenny Baker
Subs:
15 Lee Hudson
19 Jonny Walker
14 Kenny Hughes
18 Joe Bate
21 Dave Eccleston
25 Callan Beckett
12 Joe Connor

Referee: Paul Marklove
HT: 16-0
Attendance: 500 (est)