NORTH WALES CRUSADERS 14 SWINTON LIONS 8
By Sian Golden at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool
North Wales Crusaders ensured it was to be a perfect Wales Rugby League week for knockout games as they held on to claim the iProSport League 1 Cup, winning a nail-biting encounter against Swinton Lions at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road stadium.
The sun shone on the first game of the Blackpool Summer Bash weekend marathon and while it was Crusaders who were eventually the hottest, either side could have won it at the death.
However North Wales, who were technically the Cup holders after winning its forerunner the Northern Rail Bowl in 2013, proved the hungrier side and cranked up the pressure in the second half after a poor opener.
The Lions drew first blood as Shaun Robinson took advantage of a loose ball in the goal area. following a grubber kick on the sixth tackle. Chris Atkin converted skilfully from the touchline before adding a penalty to make the score 8-0.
Crusaders looked for a try back. Lee Hudson kicked a grubber which seemingly gifted them a try, but the referee saw things differently and awarded a drop out under the sticks.
It took some great play from Tommy Johnson and Alex Thompson that saw Scott Turner fly down the wing to give North Wales first try of the day, six minutes from the break. Johnson’s boot converted.
Crusaders were given a penalty a couple of minutes from the half time hooter. The kick at goal could have levelled things but Johnson’s boot just kicked it short at North Wales were 8-6 down at the break.
An early second half penalty for Crusaders saw Elliot Davies attempt to ground the ball but was held up by Lions defence. A second penalty saw Johnson’s boot come into play again and saw them level things against Swinton at 8-8.
Another opportunity for a kick at goal presented itself following a penalty for Crusaders. This time Johnson wasn’t quite as successful and things remained level.
Swinton were fighting for it. A 40-20 attempt proved futile for the Lions as the head and feed was awarded to the Welsh side.
The let off enabled Crusaders to re-group and they took the lead for the first time in the game as man of the match Jamie Dallimore twisted and turned to ground the ball. Johnson’s huge kick from the touchline proved a match-winning score as it took the game to 14-8.
Late drama ensued five minutes from time as a charge down by Lions led to a 70 metre run down the field but a consequent knock on gave the possession back to North Wales Crusaders and their large vocal following were ecstatic as their side lifted their third trophy in just their fourth season in existence.
Tries: Turner (32) Dallimore (65)
Goals: Johnson 3/4
Tries: Robinson (12)
Goals: Atkin 2/2
Attendance: 1,200 (est)
Referee: Mike Woodhead