NORTH WALES CRUSADERS suffered a 26-10 defeat to Hunslet RLFC as they failed to make use of possession in difficult conditions at the South Leeds Stadium.
Hunslet controlled what proved to be a sloppy affair from the start, and despite the best efforts of the Crusaders’ defence, the home side secured the two points as they ran in five tries.
The home side’s first effort came with just two minutes gone as Jack Lee ran through the Crusaders’ defence to open the scoring and give Hunslet a 6-0 lead.
An error-filled period of the game followed as both sides wasted good attacking positions, coming up with a mixture of knock-ons and penalties.
The Crusaders’ first opportunity to put the Hunslet defence under pressure came via Jordan Case who sent a grubber kick into the in-goal area. However, the moved was spotted by the home side who gathered the ball and retook possession.
Minutes later a similar kick followed from Ryan Smith who looked to find an on rushing Gavin Conroy with a grubber kick into the corner, but once again the Hunslet defence spotted the move and marshalled the ball out of play.
As the Crusaders wasted opportunities to level the score, Hunslet went onto make their possession count as they extended their lead. A nice move down the left saw Joel Gibson pass inside to Jimmy Watson who in turn sent Joe Sanderson through a gap to score.
Frustration began to creep in for the visitors as they found themselves reduced to 12 men after Simon Atherton saw yellow after kicking the ball away.
Making use of their extra man, Hunslet crossed for their third try of the afternoon. After shifting the ball along the line quickly, it ended up with Joel Gibson who leapt over in the corner to take the score to 16-0.
With minutes of the first-half remaining the Crusaders came close to opening their account as Stanton Albert, making his debut on loan from Widnes Vikings, charged towards the line only to be held short.
The home side looked to add to their lead on the hooter as they opted to kick a penalty. However, Joe Sanderson’s kick drifted wide sending Hunslet into the break 16-0 up.
Looking for a response to a poor first-half performance, the Crusaders came out fighting.
With just two minutes on the clock, Simon Atherton opened the Welsh sides account for the afternoon as he turned before working his way over in the corner.
With 50 minutes gone the visitors found themselves in a good position to attack. However, play was pulled back for a forward pass from Jack Houghton and possession changed hands.
Hunslet then looked to further extend their advantage with a set deep inside the Crusaders’, but some strong, scrambling defence from the visitors kept the score at 16-6.
As the Crusaders looked to work their way into the game, Hunslet ensured their victory with two quick-fire tries in the final ten minutes.
The first came via Jack Lee who turned around the Crusaders’ defence before grounding the ball for his second try of the afternoon.
He was quickly followed over by Tom Ashton who made a strong run down the wing before finishing in the corner.
However, the final score of the game came from the visitors. After Kenny Baker was held just short of the line, Dale Bloomfield powered his way over the line from close range to bring the final score to 26-10.
Attention for Mike Grady’s side now turns towards the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup as they prepare to host high-flying Championship side Featherstone Rovers at the Queensway Stadium next weekend.
1 Jimmy Watson
2 David Froggin-Johnston
23 Tom Ashton
30 Nathan Chappell
5 Joel Gibson
6 Joe Sanderson
26 Shaun Roberts
13 Matt Nicholson
9 Jack Lee
10 Lewis Reed
16 Ryan Mallinder
12 Duane Straugheir
11 Liam Mackay
29 Jake Barnett
8 Michael Haley
17 Nyle Flynn
21 Jack Walton
Tries: Lee (2, 71), Sanderson (21), Gibson (29), Ashton (73)
Goals: Sanderson 3/5
North Wales Crusaders:
1 Tommy Johnson
24 Gavin Conroy
12 Simon Atherton
17 Kenny Baker
5 Dale Bloomfield
6 Steven Roper
7 Ryan Smith
8 Jonny Walker
9 Lee Hudson
16 Alex Davidson
11 Jack Houghton
25 Jordan Case
13 Ryan Millington
19 Aaron Moore
22 Brad Brennan
BLANK Stanton Albert
BLANK Brad Walker
Tries: Atherton (42), Bloomfield (75)
Goals: Johnson 1/2
Sin-Bin: Atherton (27)
Man Of The Match: Brad Brennan – Brennan made a visible impact when he entered the game off the bench.
Penalty count: 13-13
Referee: M. Mannifield