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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Workington Town off-colour but still too good for Crusaders

North Wales Crusaders 20 Workington Town 30: Workington Town stayed on the heels of Championship One leaders Barrow without hitting their best form at Wrexham.

Jason Mossop photo
Jason Mossop

It was another performance, good enough to earn maximum points, but one which lacked the fluency and rhythm of earlier successes.

A narrow home win over Whitehaven, followed by this low key display, suggests Town are having a mid-term blip – but the fact it isn’t proving costly is ample consolation.

With Doncaster (away) looming on July 26 and a home clash with Barrow the following month, Town still have it in their own hands to win the title and the handsome prize money which goes with it.

Six more wins and Workington will finish top of the pile, but joint coaches Gary Charlton and Martin Oglanby know they will have to step up a gear on their last two efforts if they are to go up as league winners.

Workington had taken the lead on eight minutes, rounding-off a spell of pressure under the Crusaders posts. Graeme Mattinson’s dart was followed by a lovely pass to prop Kris Coward who strolled in unopposed from close range.

Carl Forber, back in the starting line-up, notched the simple conversion.

But the Crusaders looked sharp and former Whitehaven forward Andy Gorski was prominent with a series of surges deep into Town territory.

Workington were finally undone on 16 minutes when the ball was moved smartly along the line for winger Kris Wilkes to force his way over in the corner. Tommy Johnson’s touchline conversion made it all square.

It was the home side who scored next when winger Rob Massam broke away just inside the Town half. Hugging the touchline he then came inside Mark Calderwood, wrong-footing the former England winger, and then he switched back outside before diving over in the corner for a very good individual try.

Workington responded immediately, scoring a try themselves two minutes later. Substitute Jamie Thackray, a former Crusaders player, used his strength to run hard at the home line and then power through a gap to dive over. Forber converted for a 12-10 lead.

Town had lost Elliott Miller with an ankle injury but his replacement James Newton was out wide on 37 minutes to finish off with a try.

It was nip and tuck at the start of the second half, although it has to be said that in this period the Crusaders were most wasteful – losing the ball in good attacking positions to let-off the hook a scrambling home defence.

Town capitalised on their good fortune and eased further ahead on 55 minutes.

Brett Phillips had created the attacking position with a good, long run down the middle.

When the ball was shifted to the right full-back Brett Carter went on one of his jinking runs and slipped past two home defenders to score a fine try near the posts. Forber added the extras.

With Crusaders continuing to spoil their possession with handling errors Town grew in confidence and looked to have the game won when they scored on 70 minutes.

Again it was a cracking individual try, this time from Dave Petersen who raced 30 metres through a static home defence to score and Forber again converted for a 30-10 lead.

How disappointing for the Town management team and the travelling fans, that Town’s comfortable lead should be eroded in the last five minutes.

The tackling, which in the main had been strong and effective, somehow fell flat as first Danny Hulme and then Dave McConnell found a route to the line.

Johnson converted one of them and the Crusaders had grabbed a bonus point.

Workington Town: Carter, Miller, Mossop, Dawes, Calderwood, Lupton, Forber, Macdonald, Mattinson, Coward, Phillips, Whitehead, Petersen. Subs (all used) Newton, Shackley, Robinson, Thackray

Tries: Coward, Thackray, Newton, Carter, Petersen. Goals: Forber (5).

Crusaders: Johnson, Wilks, Brennan, Roets, Massam, Mousdale, Durbin, Walker, Hudson, Stephens, Gorski, Adamson, Smith. Subs (all used) Clarke, Brown, Hulme, McConnell

Tries: Wilks, Massam, Hulme, McConnell. Goals: Johnson (2)

Referee: Ronnie Laughton

Crowd: 733

Man of the match: Jason Mossop

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