NORTH WALES CRUSADERS began their 2017 Kingstone Press League 1 campaign with a 50-8 defeat at the hands of Keighley Cougars.

In difficult conditions at Cougar Park, the Welsh outfit set themselves an almost impossible challenge as they were made to pay for their first half errors and went into half-time 38-0 down.

Despite a better showing in the second half, the visitors had left themselves too much to do leaving Keighley to take the two points with a comfortable victory.

The first half belonged to the Cougars as they gave a professional performance, making good yards in their attacks.

Andy Gabriel opened the afternoons scoring with two tries. First North Wales Crusaders dropped the ball near the Keighley line and Gabriel collected it before running the length of the field to score.

Gabriel’s second came as the hosts once again punished the Crusaders for their mistakes. After the visitors conceded a penalty Keighley made good ground, eventually sending the ball out wide to Gabriel who leapt over in the corner.

Just five minutes later Keighley were over again. Adam Ryder ran hard at the Crusaders and barged his way over the line to score.

Ryder was followed over by Matty Beharrell who, with quick footwork, weaved his way through the Crusaders defence before scoring.

With the points difference already up to 20, the home side successfully kicked a 40/20, leaving them with a good position to attack from.

It was Beharrell who did make use of the position as he once again ran through the Crusaders defence to score.

Two more efforts followed for the Cougars as they capped off a strong first half showing.

First, Scott Law did well as he slid over the Crusaders’ line from close range. Keighley’s next effort was their best of the half as Beharrell put a lovely kick into the corner which Vinny Finigan gathered and then scored. Sending the teams into the break at 38-0.

The Cougars began the second half as they ended the first. After the Crusaders gave away a penalty the hosts made use of their good position, shifting the ball out wide to Lawton who pushed his way over the Crusaders defence.

The Crusaders then had a chance to respond as a kick rebounded off a Keighley player and Lee Hudson gathered the ball near the Cougars’ line. Despite the good position, the Crusaders couldn’t get over the line as Ryan Smith knocked on.

With 60 minutes gone the Crusaders opened their account through Earl Hurst. A strong run saw Hurst fend off several members of the Keighley defence before scoring.

Moments after, the visitors were in again. On the back of Keighley conceding a penalty, Jack Hansen sent full-back Tommy Johnson through a gap the the Cougars’ defence to double the Crusaders’ point total for the afternoon.

It was though the Cougars who had the last say as on the 76th minute Adam Ryder barged his way over in the corner bringing the final score to 50-8 in favour of the hosts.

Keighley Cougars:

22 Ritchie Hawkyard

26 Vinny Finigan

4 Danny Lawton

32 Adam Ryder

2 Andy Gabriel

16 Will Milner

7 Matty Beharrell

8 Scott Law

9 James Feather

29 Brad Nicholson

11 Josh Lynam

18 Josh Tonks

13 Mike Emmett

Subs;

12 Brendon Rawlins

17 Nathan Conroy

19 Matthew Bailey

0 James Brown

Tries: Gabriel (4,8), Ryder (15,76), Beharrell (21, 25), Law (34), Finigan (39), Lawton (47)

Goals: Beharrell (2/4), Lawton (5/5)

North Wales Crusaders:

1 Tommy Johnson

2 Corey Lee

28 Callum Mulkeen

4 Earl Hurst

5 Dale Bloomfield

26 Jack Hansen

7 Ryan Smith

8 Jonny Walker

9 Lee Hudson

17 Kenny Baker

24 Jack Houghton

16 Luke Warburton

14 James Dandy

Subs;

15 John Cookson

19 Dan Price

22 Andrew Joy

20 Andy Unsworth

Tries: Hurst (64), Johnson (69)

Goals: Johnson (0/2)

Attendance: 772

Half-Time: Keighley Cougars 38-0 North Wales Crusaders

Man Of The Match: Earl Hurst – A good performance and try on what was a very tough day for his side.

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