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No Shame In Defeat For Crusaders

North Wales Crusaders suffered their first league defeat of the 2024 Betfred League One season falling 22-6 to Keighley Cougars in Yorkshire.

Despite both teams entering the game with 100% records, it was the Cougars who were hot favourites given their off season recruitment designed to provide the home side with an immediate return to the championship following last season’s relegation.

However, Carl Forster’s North Wales side arrived at Cougar Park with a point to prove, and made the hosts work for their victory.

Following tight opening exchanges, it was Crusaders who opened the scoring as Chris Barratt made use of good field position to power his way through the Keighley defence.

The visitors continued to test the Keighley defence, completing sets deep into their home side's half with Matt Fletcher and Barratt both going close to doubling the Crusaders' advantage.

North Wales' defensive efforts were also strong, making the hosts wait until the 26th minute to open their account for the afternoon as Alex Bishop found space to score.

As half-time approached, Crusders came close to restoring their lead as Barratt came close again, however, the Keighley defence stood strong leaving the teams going into the break level.

The second-half looked to have started in similar fashion, until Crusaders failed to deal with a last tackle play from the Cougars which resulted in Billy Walkley crossing in the corner to give his side the lead.

Minutes later the home side doubled their advantage, catching the Crusaders defence off guard as Walkley went in for his second of the afternoon.

Despite their best efforts, Crusaders struggled to get going with Keighly taking advntage of errors and penalties conceded by Forster's side.

With 61 minutes on the clock, the home side extended their advantage as Lewis Hatton showed power to brake through Keighley's scrambling defence.

Crusaders had chances to reduce the deficit within the last twenty minutes, however a mixture of strong defence from the home side and errors from the visitors saw the Cougars hold out for a 22-6 victory.


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