Crusaders ended their stay on minus points with a resilient victory over Salford.
Gareth Thomas settled the game after quick thinking from hooker Lloyd White exposed an overlap down the blindside. Thomas was initially held up over the line, but momentum allowed him to ground the ball and edge Crusaders further in front with their third try of the game.
The Welsh side have been dogged with disciplinary problems of late and centre Vince Mellars was sin-binned after just 11 minutes for a grapple tackle. Mellars’ spell on the sidelines was the culmination of successive infringements from the visitors.
In a first-half plagued with handling errors and penalties, the first score of the game did not arrive until the final seconds of the half.
With Salford attatcking the Crusaders line, a loose pass was juggled by Luke Patten before Jordan Tansey intercepted and raced the length of the field to put Crusaders in front. Clinton Schifcofske added the extras to make it 6-0 as the half-time hooter sounded.
The introduction of Jarrod Sammut from the bench injected some much-needed craft into the game and it was the half-back who got the second try of the game after reacting first to a bobbling Hep Cahill offload. Sammut beat a host of Salford defenders to the ball and hacked on before beating the dead ball line – grounding the ball just inside the in-goal area.
Both teams probed in search of a winning try but it was the Crusaders who looked more likely – prior to Thomas’ decisive try. Ben Flower‘s charging run saw him cross the line, but the effort was ruled out for a double movement prior to grounding the ball.
As Salford chased the elusive third try, Matty Smith tested Schifcofske with hanging kicks that the full-back was twice able to gather with ease and relieve the pressure on the Crusaders defence that had stood strong for the most part.
Salford: Patten, Broughton, Ratchford, Henry, Gleeson, Smith, Holdsworth, Cashmore, Godwin, Boyle, Adamson, Nero, Wild Subs: Jewitt, Anderson, Neal, Sidlow,
Tries: Cashmere 50, Broughton 54
Goals: Holdsworth 50
Crusaders: Schifcofske, Thomas, Martin, Mellars, Reardon, Tansey, Hanbury, Moore, White, Bryant, Cahill, Chan, Johnson Subs: Flower, O’Hara, Lupton, Sammut
Tries: Tansey 40, Sammut 46, Thomas 71
Goals: Shifcofske 40, 46
Referee: Steve Ganson