On a freezing cold March day at the Brewery Field, Celtic Crusaders eventually eased to a 64-4 victory over Russian champions Lokomotiv Moscow in the Third Round of the Powergen Challenge Cup and now hope to bring a Super League side to Bridgend when the draw is made on Monday evening.
Snow-wise, Bridgend seemed to be exempt as all the surrounding areas of the Welsh valleys were covered in 3-4 inches of the white stuff, blocking off many potential supporters’ routes to the ground.
Crusaders made the perfect start the match on two minutes when Tony Duggan ran in under the sticks to score the first try. Luke Young converted.
However, a strong spell of Lokomotiv pressure was rewarded on eight minutes and Sergey Dobrynin forced his way over for a try back. Lokomotiv kept up the pressure but couldn’t force another way through.
“I was impressed with Lokomotiv, especially in the first 20 minutes,” said Crusaders’ coach John Dixon. “They gave us something to think about and were strong lads. They deserve a lot of credit for their hard work during the first quarter of the game.”
Crusaders’ Luke Young broke through the defence on 13 minutes but his run to the line was halted by the referee who judged Paul Morgan’s pass to be forward.
They forfeited another great opportunity on 17 minutes after Lloyd O’Connor knocked on when he dived for the line to ground.
However they did finally break through again on 20 minutes, this time Duggan being the provider for Young who converted his own try.
They extended their lead on 28. Phil Cushion’s grubber kick came off the post and Carl de Chenu pounced on the loose ball to score. Young converted to put the score on 18-4.
Four minutes later, Denis Meshkov was sinbinned for a late tackle on Young and Crusaders took advantage of the extra man straight away with Duggan running in for his second try of the day before running in for his hat-trick on the half-time hooter. Young converted both to make the half-time score 30-4.
Lokomotiv had a spirited start to the second half as they tried to reduce their defecit but their attacks were blocked by the Crusaders backline of Cushion, David Simm, Carle Ellis and Marcus Sainsbury.
Crusaders increased their lead on 48 minutes. A fine run from Lenny Woodard set up Duggan to go in for his fourth. De Chenu added another, his second, on 53 minutes. Young converted both to keep up his 100% kicking record.
Simm set up Welsh international Lenny Woodard for a try on the hour and his fellow former Blue Bull, Sainsbury went in under the sticks for a further score four minutes later. Young converted to put the score on 52-4.
18 year old Lee Williams then scored the try of the match on 69 minutes. Following a lay-off from Simm, the former Wales and Great Britain under 18 international ran 60 metres dodging the defenders to place under the sticks. Young converted.
Lokomotiv didn’t give up and almost completed a set of six near to the Crusaders try-line on 75 minutes but were kept out by the strong Welsh defensive line, Woodard and Scully both making big hits as they kept the Russians out.
Finally, a Lloyd O’Connor try and Luke Young goal completed the scoring on 78 minutes.
Man of the match Tony Duggan knew that it took a long time for his team to dominate commenting: “We didn’t really know what to expect from the Russians. They came out strong, were fit and it took us a while to get on top. We’re now looking forward to Monday’s draw to see who we get in the next round.”
Carl de Chenu
Tries: Duggan (2, 32, 40, 48), Young (20), de Chenu (28, 53), Woodard (60), Sainsbury (64), Williams (69), O’Connor (78)
Goals: Young 10/11
Tries: Dobrynin (8)
Sinbinned: Meshkov (late tackle, 32 minutes)
Referee: Craig Hallaron (Dewsbury)