North Wales Crusaders took another positive step in their season, dubbed by the club as #Mission2013, with the clinical dispatching of National Conference Premier side West Hull 82-6 in round three of the Challenge Cup at Wilderspool.
The East Yorkshire side had been pulled out of the hat first in the third round draw, but when their ground failed to meet RFL minimum standards and they were thwarted in their attempt find an alternative venue, the match was reversed.
But with the Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium under pressure due to fixture congestion, the Crusaders board elected to play the game at Wilderspool in Warrington and the match certainly lived up to the performances previously displayed at this historic rugby league venue.
Within minutes of the game getting underway, Crusaders hooker Dave McConnell, back after a missing the South Wales Scorpions game due to the birth of his first daughter, showed he was up for the match by charging down a West Hull kick on the fifth tackle, resulting in excellent field position that ultimately allowed him to send in winger Rob Massam in the corner to put the Welshmen 4-0 up.
From the resulting kick-off, Crusaders ploughed up the field and prop Owain Brown, the inaugural signing for the club last year who was making his first competitive appearance of 2013, made hard yards before giving a deft offload to fullback Tommy Johnson, who crossed for a try before converting to make it 10-0.
For the vast majority of the first half, the East Yorkshiremen tried valiantly in defence but were no match for the physicality or precision of the Championship One opposition, and conceded tries to Lewys Weaver, Craig White, Stuart Reardon, Andy Moulsdale, Rob Massam and Jono Smith.
Just before the half time hooter, West Hull gained their first bit of territory and sneaked a try which was just reward for how valiantly they had worked in defence for the first 40 minutes against stronger opposition, going in to the break 44 – 6 behind.
The second half began much like the first, with Crusaders taking the early initiative, another from Jono Smith, before Moulsdale, Reardon and Johnson all grabbed a second. But the best account of the day went to Weaver, who chalked up a couple more from his first half performance to grab a hat-trick.
So North Wales Crusaders thundered their way into the fourth round of the Challenge Cup with their highest ever score, a record winning margin and a record points tally in a single game for fullback Tommy Johnson, who scored two tries and slotted 12 conversions to choruses of “we’ve got the best kicker, in the cup” from the legendary Brian Bevan stand which housed 230 fans, who made enough noise to justify the use of such a hallowed Rugby League ground.
Crusaders can now look forward to the potential of Super League opposition in the fourth round draw on Monday, before getting back down to business in the league next Sunday against London Skolars at the Racecourse, which could be critical game in their promotion challenge.
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS
Tries: Massam 3, 28, Johnson 5, 79, Weaver 11, 46, 71, White 14, Reardon 17, 62, Moulsdale 26, 54, Smith 31, 44, Gorski 56
Goals: Johnson 11/15
Tries: Radley 37
Goals: Hart 1/1
Referee: Dave Merrick
MOTM: Dave McConnell