Rugby League: South Wales Scorpions 12 North Wales Crusaders 34
By Ian Golden at The Gnoll
North Wales Crusaders secured bragging rights in the first Welsh derby of the season as they beat South Wales Scorpions 34-12 at The Gnoll.
The Scorpions, had to make a number of last-minute changes after partner side Wigan Warriors withdrew their dual registration players, for this game only, just 24 hours before kick-off.
But it did give Dave Clark the opportunity to blood some of his young players and fielded 15 born and bred Welshmen in his 17-man squad.
It meant that the more experienced Crusaders players, most of whom have been through the top community leagues in the North West of England, were able to take advantage. They didn’t have everything their own way as Clark’s youngsters made a fight of it, especially in the second half when they had three tries ruled out, but Scorpions had that little bit extra in the tank to secure the victory.
After an even first five minutes, Crusaders took the lead when the Scorpions committed professional suicide. Andy Moulsdale intercepted a pass that was far too long and he raced 60 metres to score. Tommy Johnson converted.
And Steve Parry, while trying to break through the Crusaders pack for a potential leveller, had his pass intercepted too. The North Wales side won a penalty and worked their way upfield but Jono Smith was denied a second for his side thanks to some good South Wales defending.
Crusaders’ lead was doubled on 17 minutes. Jamie Durbin played the ball out to Gary Middlehurst who grounded in the corner.
The second row forward doubled his tally and scored Crusaders’ third from kick-off as he broke away to ground. Johnson converted to make the score 16-0.
But Scorpions fought back with two back to back tries. First, youngster TJ Collin twisted and turned to ground under the sticks and Courtney Davies converted.
Then top try scorer Dalton Grant was put through by Steve Parry who raced past the Cru defence to ground. Davies converted again.
But Crusaders struck back and Middlehurst dived over from close range to complete a first half hat-trick which Johnson converted.
They could have scored more but Jamie Durbin, Owain Griffiths and Phil Braddish were all held up over the line.
Crusaders were first to score in the second half through Jono Smith from close range.
After that they didn’t have it their own way as Scorpions held up and the contest generally turned into a middle of the field battle.
Scorpions again tried for one back but Steve Parry was twice held up over the line in the space of ten minutes.
But Crusaders secured the game on 24 minutes when Moulsdale broke free of the pack and ran 50 metres for his second and his side’s sixth. Johnson converted.