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BATTLING CRUSADERS MISS PLAY-OFFS

3rd September 2012, 10:18

BATTLING CRUSADERS MISS PLAY-OFFS

.. BUT BIG DEFEAT BY WHITEHAVEN IS HARSH ON NORTH WALIANS

WHITEHAVEN 58 NORTH WALES CRUSADERS 20

Ryan Gould at the Recreation Ground

IT was a big ask of North Wales Crusaders if they were to make the play-offs, and so it proved, with a victory over Whitehaven a bit too much to ask of this battling outfit regardless of how results went elsewhere.

The 58-20 scoreline was a harsh reflection of the game, but at the same time showed Haven’s attacking ruthfulness, and that will be an encouraging sign for the Cumbrians ahead of the play-offs.

Carl Rudd was highly influentual on his final appearance in a Whitehaven shirt and Andrew Beattie was also spectacular in the second row, scoring a hat trick of tries.

But it could have been very different with Crusaders making the perfect start. Moulsdale put in a grubber kick on the last tackle, Gorski grounding the ball just short of the dead ball line to take the visitors into the lead.

The hosts responded with two tries through Hemingway and Calvert, and although North Wales responded soon after with a try from Massam to reduce the margin, those scores really set the tone for how the game was going to pan out.

Jamie Rooney hit the line and showed too much strength for the Crusaders defensive line, and then the home side added two further tries in as many minutes towards the end of the half in what was a disastrous finish for the visitors.

Firstly, American football style ball handling from Jessie Joe Parker made the space for Andrew Beattie to go over, and then the center finished one off himself, showing fantastic support play after a Calvert break.

It was a big second period for the Crusaders and it looked as though they were going to pull it back. Brennan produced an amazing offload in the right corner and Massam collected to score his second within the opening few minutes of the half.

That wasn’t the case though, as Brad Crellin powered his way over in the corner and Beattie latched onto a Carl Rudd grubber to take Haven 26 points infront, and at the same time that put the result beyond doubt.

And then Beattie finished off his hat trick as he support a Jessie Joe Parker break down the left, and although Simon Stephens went over for Crusaders – set up by Jono Smith as he hit the line – Haven’s scoring spree was resumed soon afterwards.

Rooney was the first to react to a Carl Rudd grubber, which bobbled about and bamboozled the North Wales Crusaders defence. And Carl Rudd almost finished his playing career at Whitehaven in real style with a try of his own.

Rooney and Rudd both chipped the ball over the North Wales Crusaders defence, but the last touch was a little too far out-of-reach for the scrum half, and it was Hamzat who touched down on the hooter to round off a strong win for the home side.

It wasn’t the best ending to what has been an impressive year for North Wales Crusaders considering where they started, but nevertheless one of the main driving forces to get the club to where they are now remained – the supporters. They were once again spectacular.