Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sunday's Coming: North Wales Crusaders

No Welsh stereotypes here, boyo!

Sunday brings 'Big Spending North Wales Crusaders™' to Spotland - but they've hardly lived up to their Champions tag from last season.  

Proving once again that we know nowt about Rugby League, we predicted that Crusaders would be the team to break into the top 'division within a division', but their potential goes unrealised and they find themselves involved in the bottom five shit-fight with the rest of us.

On the same number of wins as Hornets having played a game more - and artficially buoyed by seven bonus points - Crusaders sit nine points and four wins adrift of 10th placed Whitehaven.

The big clue to Crusaders' underachievement lies in the numbers. A cursory glance at the stats for the year reveals that  they are the lowest scorers in the Championship - actually having scored one point fewer than already-relegated Barrow!

Their propensity for low-scoring manifested itself last week when they choked at the death to lose 8-16 to Workington to leave Anthony Murray still looking for his first win in charge of Crusaders, having stepped into the hot-seat at the Univrsty f n Vwls six weeks ago. 

Jono Smith's try on 72 minutes looked to have won it for North Wales. But, with just two minutes left on the clock, Crusaders conceded a penalty for obstruction and Town marched upfield to nick it with the last play of the game. 

Off the field, Crusaders' coaching revolving door continues to turn. From the outset Anthony Murray, who took over from Clive Griffiths in June, said that he would step down from the role at the end of the season due to work commitments. Hence, The club has this week announced that they are aiming to appoint a new head coach for next season in the next couple of weeks.

Hornets fans will be hoping for a repeat of that astonishing game at the Racecourse back in April, when Ian Talbot's side produced one of the displays of the season to dismantle a frankly shambolic Crusaders by 42 to 16.

Certainly a win of any colour - preferably without conceding a bonus point - would provide a welcome boost. Defeat for Swinton and a big win yielding a 46 point points-swing (i.e. a 23 point margin) would hoist Hornets above the Lions and put us hot on Crusaders' tail having wiped out their advantageous points difference.

With 18 points still up for grabs there's plenty to play for. It'll only take a couple of squeaky sphincters around that 9th place spot and for Hornets to find a bit of momentum and there might just be a miracle left in this season yet.