Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Friday's Coming: North Wales Crusaders

What better way to spend a Good Friday than queuing all the way to Wrexham to see Hornets take on 'Big Spending North Wales Crusaders™' at the Nversty f n Vwls.

Wrexham this morning: total gridlock
And, my, how things have changed since last we visited. Having spent every opportunity last year to pontificate on the evils of Dual Registration, Clive Griffiths has had a Damascene conversion. Having leapt eagerly for Widnes' teat, Griffiths said pre-season:  "Denis (Betts) and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to loans and dual registrations. It's going to be a long, physical and demanding season and a professional partnership with Widnes will certainly prove an added advantage."

A Rugby League miracle, ladies & gentlemen. Hallelujah!

Having played the hypocrisy card, Griffiths has assembled a robust outfit that looked like it might shock a few sides this season - certainly the additions of Michael Platt, Stephen Wild and US World Cup forward Mark Offerdahl caught the eye.

Having nabbed a couple of early wins over Barrow and Swinton, Crusaders now sit two places and one point above Hornets in the table having lost the last four games straight - including a 66-nil tanking at Featherstone in the cup.

Last week, Crusaders were in the game at 10-6 at the Keepmoat until bouncing bundle of fun Jono Smith got himself sin-binned for a professional foul on the hour mark - sticking out a leg at the play the ball to try and buy a couple of seconds to get back to marker. Doncaster scored off the next set. 

Most notable contribution came from Gary Middlehurst who weighed in with two tries to secure a bonus point.

Indeed, with the bottom six packed tightly together, any points are vital -  which gives what has already become a bit of a spicy fixture a bit of an extra frisson.

Interesting footnote to this preview is that, this week, agricultural Cumbrian battering ram Ryan MacDonald has been released from his Crusaders contract early to 'pursue his career elsewhere', after he admitted to Clive Griffiths that that the Championship was a bit tougher than he envisaged.

MacDonald has been replaced with former French international Sebastien Martins.
who's been playing with Queensland Cup side Central Queensland Capras. Martins previously played in UK competitions with Catalan Dragons, Hull KR, Leigh and Whitehaven Depending on his jet-lag, he may play on Friday. 

The Crusaders side at Doncaster last week was:

1 Tommy Johnson, 22 Adam Clay, 17 Stuart Reardon, 3 Christiaan Roets, 5 Rob Massam, 7 Jamie Dallimore, 28 Craig White, 8 Jonny Walker,  9 Craig Ashall, 10 Mark Offerdahl, 12 Gary Middlehurst, 13 Jono Smith, 14 Stephen Wild. Subs: 15 David Mills, 19 Karl Ashall, 21 Simon Stephens, 26 Matt Reid.

Directions to 'Big Spending North Wales Crusaders™'

Take the M56 toward North Wales/Chester/Runcorn.
At junction 15, exit onto M53 toward Chester/Wrexham.
Continue onto the A55.
At junction 38, take the A483 to Wrexham/Chester.
At junction 5, take the A541 exit to Wrexham//Mold.
Top of the slip road go left onto the A541.
Through a coupe of roundabouts (passing Sainsbury's on your left).
The ground is, about half a mile on your left.