Celtic Crusaders 6-32 Brisbane Broncos

Michaels came off the bench at half time and crossed twice, giving even more momentum to his bid for inclusion in the starting line-up against St Helens at the Reebok Stadium next week.

The three-quarter also grabbed a brace of tries when Brisbane beat Queensland Cup side Central Comets in Rockhampton last week.

Another star performer in Wales was prop Petero Civoniceva, who carried on his brilliant 2006 form to take man of the match in his first game of the season.

The Broncos certainly ran into some vibrant opposition at Brigend’s Brewery Field, one that had touches of familiarity about it.

Apart from Crusaders’ coach John Dixon, Bennett’s former assistant at the Broncos, players Tony Duggan, Jace Van Dijk, Neale Wyatt, Darren Mapp and Damien
Quinn had all been through the Broncos’ system at some time.

The Broncos opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Shane Perry scarpered from a scrum and put Darren Lockyer under the posts.

But the Crusaders hit back 10 minutes later when former Cowboy Mark Dalle Cort put Welsh international Grant Epton on his way to the line, the conversion making it 6-all.

Brisbane had a 12-6 halftime lead when Justin Hodges snapped up an intercept just before the break.

Brought on at halftime, Michaels showed he is keen to cement a spot this year when he scored after just 80 seconds, and seven minutes later Karmichael Hunt went over to give the visitors a 22-6 break.

Michaels grabbed his second with 18 minutes left, and then Brent Tate crossed in the 69th minute to finish the scoring.

The Crusaders had every right to take some kudos for the way they tackled, Dixon commenting afterwards: “We took some pride in defending our line – it was a very creditable performance from us.”

It was also a valuable public relations exercise for the National League Two club, who drew their biggest crowd ever to the match and gained maximum press exposure.

Local television stations gave live feeds from the ground before the game, radio stations ran competitions for tickets, and Lockyer was the main picture in the local paper’s sporting pages for three days running.

“It’s been the biggest night of Welsh Rugby League since the days of Jonathan Davies,” said Crusaders’ operations manager Gerald McCarthy.

“It’s been really hard work but it was well worth it – the visit of the Broncos has helped get the Crusaders on the map.”   

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