10th July 2018, 19:37
Report: Crusaders U12s win at Leigh East
North Wales Crusaders U12s continue to impress as they picked up an 18-16 win at Leigh East.
The two teams put on a terrific game on Leigh East's main 3G pitch in front of a healthy crowd on Saturday afternoon.
From minute one, both sides were up for the contest and it proved to be a great advert for junior rugby league.
Crusaders were quickly into their game and forced an early error from the home team deep in their own 20 metre area.
From the resulting scrum, loose forward Charlie Jones broke from the scrum base and powered over from 10 metres out. Iwan Hughes added the extras to put North Wales 6-0 up.
Leigh are a pretty handy side, though, and back they came with a neat shift to the left as they crossed for a converted try, making it 6-6.
Crusaders continued to press hard, the pack gave them good go forward and, when the ball was shifted, the home defence had to be on their mettle.
It was Charlie Jones who gave the visitors the advantage again, powering down the blind side for a score, which Hughes converted. Crusaders led 12-6.
Back came Leigh once again with an unconverted try to make it 12-10 to Crusaders at the half-time break. It was a thoroughly deserved lead after a great first-half performance.
The second-half started with Leigh very much on the front foot.
Crusaders were on the end of an increasing penalty count against them, but their tackle and cover defence was holding comfortably.
It took a handling error in their own 20 to hand Leigh the opportunity to take the lead.
From the scrum, the home side used their good field position to engineer a lovely try in the corner, which was converted to give them the lead for the first time at 16-12.
The young Crusaders found their focus again and began to claw their way back into the game.
Strong forward drives gave the halfbacks enough time and space for a lovely right to left shift, giving fullback Iwan Hughes just enough space to show his pace and finishing ability to score a great team try. Hughes himself added the extras and they led 18-16 with only a few minutes on the clock.
Bevan Williams thought he had the game done and dusted as he charged over from a neat short Josh Williams pass, only for the referee to rule it out as he had done earlier for a Iwan Hughes score.
North Wales then had three consecutive penalties given against them, putting East within reach of the tryline, but some strong, aggressive and relentless Crusaders defence held them out.
The Welsh team finally forced a handling error and the referee blew for full-time. There was elation for Crusaders as they held on to a memorable 18-16 away win.
Crusaders head coach Allen Jones was full of praise for his players.
“Firstly, this was a tremendous game of junior rugby league that was played hard with not an inch given by either team,” said Jones.
“The last few minutes showed what character these boys have got. They were on the wrong side of the referee, but they kept turning up for each other in defence, showing real guts and determination to hold East out.
“They will have learnt so much from this contest and it was some contest. It should stand them well for future games after a fantastic team performance."