North Wales Crusaders went down 30-16 against Doncaster in what was the third league defeat of the season. Whilst Crusaders couldn't come away with the 2 points there were enough positives to take away from the game to keep the squad confident going into next week's clash with Oldham.
Crusaders got off to a perfect start after 5 minutes. A penalty was awarded for a high tackle in a good attacking position and North Wales were able to capitalise after a mazey run across the line saw Owain Abel go over to score the opening try. St Helens loanee Danny Moss converted to send Crusaders 6-0 up.
Only minutes later Crusaders lost debuting fullback Ben Lane to a HIA and that was the end of his afternoon. This forced Crusaders to shuffle the deck including Jack Holmes moved to fullback and Kieran Taylor taking up an unfamiliar position on the wing.
Despite this Crusaders continued to push for the next try with Carl Forster stealing the ball in the centre of the park followed by Brad Jinks going over but being held up over the line. This was followed shortly after by some good work by Abel and Fletcher that sent Hazzard through the Doncaster defence but he was chased down before getting to the try line.
Doncaster didn't take long to get over the line for their first points of the afternoon as The Dons quickly moved the ball to the wing where Tom Halliday went over for the try. Connor Robinson added the extras to make it 6-6.
The next 10 minutes saw sustained pressure from Crusaders forcing repeat sets. Jordan Andrade was introduced from the bench and was instantly into the game with his trademark strong carries. Owain Abel was kicking well at the end of sets to keep the pressure on Doncaster and both Forster and Jinks were held up whilst trying to ground the ball for that all important try.
After soaking up the pressure, Doncaster were able to go over again with Sam Smeaton breaking Crusaders line from 5 metres out. Connor Robinson again converted to send Doncaster in at half time with a 12-6 lead.
Doncaster came out strongly in the opening minutes of the second half with Travis Corion going over for The Dons but the referee called it back for a forward pass. Soon after Crusaders found themselves with a big opportunity as Andrade raced for the line but Doncaster managed a one on one strip 5 metres out.
Shortly after, Doncaster were back at the other end and Smeaton went over for a try with Connor Robinson again converting to make it 18-6.
Crusaders rallied and a Matt Reid breakaway ended up with Carl Forster once again being held up over the line. After receiving a penalty for a high tackle on Abel, Crusaders capitalised with Chris Barratt over for the try and Danny Moss adding the extras to make the score 18-12.
Doncaster then started putting pressure on Crusaders and after receiving a penalty for a late hit on kicker Johnston, Smeaton went over for his third try of the afternoon which was converted by Robinson and within minutes they were over the line again for a try with Travis Corion going over. Robinson again converted making the score 30-12 with 13 minutes to go.
Crusaders were not done despite the scoreline and with 7 minutes to go Matt Reid streaked away for a trademark try with Danny Moss seeing his conversion attempt hit the post.
It was a tough outing for Crusaders against an experienced Doncaster side but there were lots of positives for Carl Forster and his team to take away from the afternoon's work. Next week sees Crusaders take on Oldham at home and they will be confident that they can get off the mark and secure a vital 2 points to kick start the season after three hard games, 2 of which could have seen them come away with the points but for some bad luck at vital times in the games.