NORTH WALES CRUSADERS suffered a 26-38 defeat at the hands of a strong Saint Helens select side in a pre-season clash at the Queensway Stadium.
Mike Grady’s side battled hard against a St’ Helens side which featured a mix of reserve and first-team players.
Despite holding their own for large periods of the game, the Wrexham based side were made to pay for their mistakes by a clinical Saints outfit.
The Crusaders started brightly, as just three minute in Ryan Smith put pressure on the Saints defence with a kick to the corner. However, Gavin Conroy couldn’t get to the ball and possession changed hands.
Matty Smith then looked to test the home side’s defence with a high-kick towards the wing, but it was dealt with well by Kenny Baker who gathered the ball before offloading to Dale Bloomfield.
With 19 minutes gone, the visitors opened the scoring as Rob Fairclough setup Thomas Nisbet who ran the ball over the line.
The hosts came close to responding almost immediately as Baker offloaded to Bloomfield who was kept out by a strong Saints defence.
However, it wasn’t long before the Crusaders did find a response. With 24 minutes on the clock, Alex Thompson offloaded to Gavin Conroy who beat the Saints defence to score in the corner.
As an entertaining affair continued, the Saints began to take the game away from the Crusaders as they crossed the line three times in the final ten minutes of the first-half.
The first came via a great solo effort from Adam Swift who broke down the wing before out-running the Crusaders defence on his way over the line.
He was quickly followed by John Hutchings who was sent over in the corner by Cameron Brown, taking the score to 4-18.
The Saints capped off a strong ten minutes just before the hooter sounded as Smith found a gap in the Crusaders’ defence which he darted through to score.
The second-half scoring was opened just two minutes in as Baker made use of a ball steal as he crossed the line, reducing the defecit to 14 points.
However, the visitors responded quickly as Swift picked up a loose ball and ran from inside his own half to score.
Moments later the visitors were in again as Swift found a gap in the corner to complete his hat-trick, and extend Saint’s lead to 10-34.
The home side responded soon after as Callan Beckett passed out wide to Conroy who leapt over in the corner for his second of the afternoon.
As the game entered its final ten minutes, the Crusaders scored their fourth of the afternoon through Alex Davidson who powered his way over the whitewash from close range.
Though that wasn’t the final action of the game, as Saint Helens hit back through Ben Morris who picked up a dropped ball and broke before running the ball across the line.
However, the hosts ensured that they had the final word as Joe Bate stormed through the Saints defence to score, bringing the final score to 26-38.
North Wales Crusaders:
1 Tommy Johnson
2 Gavin Conroy
20 Alex Thompson
17 Kenny Baker
5 Dale Bloomfield
6 Steven Roper
7 Ryan Smith
8 Jonny Walker
9 Lee Hudson
10 Warren Thompson
11 Jack Houghton
25 Jordan Case
13 Ryan Millington
19 Aaron Moore
15 Joe Bate
22 Brad Brennan
16 Alex Davidson
12 Simon Atherton
29 Billy Sheen
26 Alex Trumper
3 Callan Beckett
Tries: Conroy (24, 62), Baker (42), Davidson (71), Bate (79)
Goals: Johnson (3/5)
1 Thomas Nisbet
2 Adam Swift
3 Cameron Brown
4 Matthew Costello
5 John Hutchings
6 Matthew Smith
7 Rob Fairclough
8 Luke Douglas
20 Aaron Smith
10 Liam Cooper
11 Chris Follin
12 Ben Morris
14 Josh Eaves
22 Callum Hazzard
21 Jorge Lewtas
16 Alex Eckley
17 Kian Horridge
18 Jack Welsby
Tries: Nisbet (18), Swift (32, 52, 58), Hutchings (34), Smith (39), Morris (74)
Goals: Fairclough (4/4), Smith (1/3)
Referee: M. Griffiths
Man Of The Match: Kenny Baker