Celtic Crusaders are hoping to draw a Super League side in the Fourth Round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup after beating National Conference Premier outfit, Eastmoor Dragons 50-10 in Bridgend on Saturday evening.
The Crusaders made hard work of beating a plucky Dragons side in this, a good old-fashioned bruiser of a Cup tie which saw three players sent off following a mass brawl.
Eastmoor were still in the match for almost an hour but the Crusaders eventually showed their superior fitness and ran home four tries in a six minute spell near to the end of the game.
Dean Fitzgerald could have given the Crusaders a first minute lead but pressure caused him to knock on as he was diving for the line.
Eastmoor recovered and their authoritative attacking was rewarded with a try, Michael Brown running through in the corner to give the visitors a shock lead.
Crusaders took ten minutes to get back into the game. Terry Martin could have gone over for a debut try but dropped Luke Young’s pass while Lee Williams was pushed into touch while diving for the line.
But Josh Cale went over on 15 minutes with Luke Young kicking the easy conversion and Paul Ballard ran through 12 minutes later to extend the lead to 10-4.
Eastmoor struck back straight away with Brown running in his second try and Leigh Joyce converting but the Crusaders went in with a 16-10 half-time lead after Young scored in the corner converting his own try.
Geraint Davies waltzed through for an early second half score on 42 minutes with Young converting.
This put the Crusaders into a narrow 12-point lead and Eastmoor did their best to narrow that gap but to no avail. Adrian Mulcahy kicked a hopeful grubber but it was picked up by Tony Duggan while Andrew Phillips had the perfect opportunity to get them back into the game but he fumbled the ball while having a clear run at goal.
Crusaders made them pay for this as Duggan easily ran through from the next set to score his sixth try of the season and Young converted again to put the Crusaders into an unassailable 28-10 lead.
The already fiery encounter erupted on 65 minutes and referee Peter Brooke had no choice but to get his red card out with Geraint Davies, Jamie Barraclough and debutant Terry Martin all being dismissed.
After that the Crusaders opened the floodgates with four quick tries, all from runs down the wing. Craig Richards kept up his fine run of form by sprinting in with a brace while Ballard and Duggan each added their personal second tries of the match.
Crusaders’ coach John Dixon said: “I give a lot of credit to Eastmoor in the first half and they scored two nice tries. But the second half belonged to us and defensively, we were very good throughout the day. We’ve got a good squad depth here and that stood us in good stead today. The class of our players shone through in the end.”
Mark Dalle Cort
Tries: Cale (15), Ballard (27, 75), Young (39), Davies (42), Duggan (58, 71), Richards (69, 77)
Goals: Young 7/9
Sent-off: Davies (fighting, 65), Martin (fighting, 65)
Tries: M. Brown (5, 31)
Goals: Joyce 1/2
Sent-off: Barraclough (65, fighting)
Referee: Peter Brooke (Nottingham)