Crusaders 23-10 Wakefield


A stirring second half performance helped Crusaders defeat basement rivals Wakefield 23-10 as they recorded a morale boosting victory.

Tries from Michael Witt, Vince Mellars, Ryan O’Hara and Rhys Hanbury did the damage for the home side, who had trailed 10-0 at the break.

Crusaders started the game in determined fashion, controlling the opening five minutes courtesy of some good work by their forwards. However, they were unable to create any genuine try scoring opportunities and it was the visitors who struck first.

Keiran Hyde pounced on a loose pass by Clinton Schifcofske and set off for the line but was unable to outrun the veteran fullback. The Wildcats spread the ball wide and Chris Dean put Dale Morton in at the corner for the opening try on nine minutes. Josh Griffin‘s attempted conversion was unsuccessful.

The Wildcats extended their lead when Morton scored his second of the match on 15 minutes. A clever kick through by Stuart Howarth sat up nicely for the young winger who survived an attempted shoulder tackle to touch down out wide. Griffin’s conversion scraped its way over the bar to put the Yorkshire side 10-0 in front.

Crusaders were enjoying plenty of possession but struggled to open up the visitors defence and a torrential downpour midway through the half brought about a succession of errors from both sides.

The hosts pushed forward with half time approaching but Elliot Kear was unable to claim a Witt bomb before both Tansey and Sammut were thwarted by high tackles. They went close from the resultant penalty but Witt was held up short and the ball was spilled on the next tackle ensuring the Wildcats led 10-0 at the interval.

The hosts started the second half strongly and opened their account for the night with a try by Witt on 44 minutes. Tansey, whose introduction added some extra zest to Crusaders attack, broke clear and put Witt through to score under the posts and Schifcofske slotted over the simple conversion to reduce the deficit to four points.

A try from Vince Mellars on 49 minutes, following some good work by Hanbury and Schifcofske, levelled the match but Schifcofske was unable to add the touchline conversion leaving the sides tied up at 10-10.

The shell-shocked visitors recovered and Hyde thought he had restored their lead on 52 minutes but referee Phil Bentham ruled a knock on.

There was almost a moment to forget for Wakefield’s Tommy Lee on 59 minutes when his attempted short drop out was regathered by the home side but they were unable to take advantage.

Mellars went close to putting the hosts in front for the first time a few minutes later but Bentham ruled the Kiwi centre had been held up. However, Crusaders did take the lead on 67 minutes with Witt slotting over a drop goal.

The home supporters were lifted further when young winger Kear bypassed two defenders in the in-goal area and raced 50 metres before he was finally brought to a stop. 

Crusaders claimed a crucial try on 75 minutes when Ryan O’Hara crashed over the line and Schifcofske’s conversion put them 17-10 in front.

Wakefield were unable to find a response and the home side sealed a vital win in the final minute of the game with a try from Hanbury. The Australia was quickest to react to a loose ball and touched down for a simple try with Schifcofske adding the extras as Crusaders ran out 23-10 winners.

Crusaders: Schifcofske, Reardon, Thomas, Mellars, Kear, Witt, Hanbury, Bryant, White, Moore, Cahill, Winterstein, Lupton. Subs: Tansey, Sammut, Flower, O’Hara.

Tries: Witt 44, Mellars 49, O’Hara 75, Hanbury 79.

Goals: Schifcofske 44, 75, 79.

Drop Goals: Witt 67.

Wakefield: Blaymire, Griffin, Dean, Murphy, Morton, Hyde, Lee, Johnson, Rinaldi, Amor, Morrison, Mariano, Howarth. Subs: King, Henderson, Higgins, Smith.

Tries: Morton 9, 13.

Goals: Griffin 13.

Drop Goals:

Referee: Phil Bentham

Attendance: 3,241


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