NORTH WALES CRUSADERS fell to a 46-28 defeat at the hands of Keighley Cougars at the Queensway Stadium.
The Crusaders had four tries disallowed in what turned out to be a frustrating afternoon, as Anthony Murray’s side failed to make it three consecutive victories in the Betfred League One.
The Wrexham-based side started strongly, opening the scoring with just four minutes gone. After clever attacking play from Joe Bate created problems for the Keighley defence, Kenny Baker took advantage as he ran through the gap to score.
Minutes later the Crusaders looked to be in again. A well worked move ended with the ball being shifted to the wing where Gavin Conroy finished in the corner but saw the effort chalked off as he’d been pushed into touch before he could ground the ball.
After dominating the opening exchanges, the Crusaders began to come under pressure from the Cougars as they worked their way back into the game.
Having been tested on several occasions, the Crusaders’ defence was eventually beaten with 18 minutes on the clock as Daniel Parker found space out wide where he powered his way over the line to level the score.
Crusaders looked to have reclaimed their lead minutes later as a looping pass from Ryan Smith found Dale Bloomfield in space on the wing where he finished to move before play was pulled back for a forward pass in the build up.
The remainder of the first-half belonged to the visitors as they deprived Crusaders of the ball, running in four tries before the hooter.
The first came via Perry Whiteley who took advantage of the home side’s failure to deal with a high-kick as he gathered a loose ball before grounding it to give the Cougars a 10-6 lead.
Moments later that advantage was extended as Adam Ryder ran through the Crusaders’ defence to take his side’s lead to ten points. He was quickly followed over by Nathan Conroy who caught the host’s defence off guard as he darted over from close range.
The visitors rounded off the first-half with a try in the final minute as Ryder crossed in the corner for his second of the afternoon to send the Cougars into the break 28-6 up.
Looking to hit back, the Crusaders thought they’d scored four minutes into the second-half as Dan Norman crossed beneath the posts only for the try to be ruled out for a forward pass beforehand.
As Keighley re-took control of the game, they made their possession count with two quick-fire tries. Having caught the Crusaders defence off the mark, Scott Law ran through the gap before Whiteley was found in space where he scored his second of the match taking Keighley’s lead to 40-6.
Despite time running out, the home side refused to give up, and their efforts were rewarded in the 65th minute when Baker stepped the Keighley defence before finishing the move underneath the posts.
He was quickly followed over by Brad Walker who broke the line before racing 30 meters to reduce Keighley’s advantage to 40-18.
The Crusaders then saw two chances go begging as an effort from Ryan Smith was ruled out before Gavin Conroy was stopped in his tracks as he broke away with play pulled back for offside.
Any thoughts of the Crusaders comeback were halted in the 73rd minute as Parker drove his way over the line for the Cougars to extend their lead.
However, the Welsh outfit weren’t finished yet. Despite being out of the game, they responded with two more scores before the hooter – both coming via Brad Brennan.
Ultimately the response had come too late, with the Cougars taking the two points with a final score of 46-28.