A LAST minute Kenny Baker try sealed a fantastic victory for North Wales Crusaders who came from 12-0 down to bring two points home from their trip to the North East.
A slow start had gifted Newcastle a 12-0 lead before Crusaders hit back to enter the break on level terms. With the hosts taking the lead on two more occasions in the second-half, Anthony Murray’s side showed great determination to secure a vital victory on the road.
Newcastle didn’t take long to open the scoring as just three minutes in a high-kick from Tom Shaw caught Patrick AhVan off-guard, bouncing kindly for Joe Brown who ran over in the corner.
Minutes later the Crusaders were reduced to 12 men as Joe Bate saw yellow for an off the ball tackle.
The home side looked to have capitalised on their extra man as Mo Agoro stretched the Crusaders defence and crashed over in the corner. However, the effort was ruled out by the touch judge with the score remaining 6-0.
Crusaders continued to come under pressure from Jason Payne’s side, but did well to hold out consecutive Newcastle sets on their line.
The pressure eventually paid off for Newcastle as a grubber kick through the Crusaders defence was gathered by Shaw who crossed the whitewash beneath the posts to double his sides lead.
As the Welsh side looked for a route back into the game, they passed up on several opportunities – knocking on twice in front of the Newcastle line.
However, their work eventually paid off with 37 minutes on the clock as Joe Lyons broke the Newcastle line before sending Ryan Smith through a gap to score.
With half-time fast approaching the Crusaders managed to level the score in the last minute courtesy of Dale Bloomfield. As the hooter sounded a kick to the corner from Lyons was chased down by Bloomfield who did well to beat the chasing Newcastle defence to the corner to score.
Newcastle started the second-half as they had the first, with a quick try. A kick on the last tackle rebounded off the post protector into the hands of Shaw who crashed over the line to give his side the lead once again.
Crusaders hit back almost immediately has Aaron Moore played a quick ball to Dan Norman who powered his way through the Newcastle defence to level the score.
Despite attacking efforts from the visitors, Newcastle took the lead with eight minutes to go as Shaw converted a penalty in front of the posts to take the score to 20-18.
With minutes remaining the Crusaders took the lead for the first time as clever play on the last tackle saw Kenny Baker find space to go over before converting his own try to take the score to 20-24.