Words by: Chris Wilson

Image by: Richard Lord

North Wales Crusaders will contest the League 1 Cup final for the second time in three years after a game in which both sides scored half a dozen tries but the boot of Tommy Johnson converted all six of his side’s touchdowns to make the difference.
In contrast, Kieran Hyde missed four of his six kicks at goal which, had he kicked them, would have made the score a lot closer but most likely would not have altered the result.
All Golds coach Lee Greenwood said, “We weren’t good today. It was probably the worst 80 minutes we’ve put together this season and we’ve lost on goal kicks”
The All Golds have only themselves to blame as each one of the Crusaders scores can be traced back to an error in possession or poor discipline.
A side as experienced as the Crusaders will make the most of what they are given and they did so with five first half tries to take a stranglehold on the game by the break as they led 30-10.
After Brad Kislingbury forced his way over for the opening score of the game for the home side after 11 minutes of cat-and-mouse, Jack Mitchell dropped the restart and Alex Davidson ploughed over for a try against his old club from the resulting set.
The next mistake came after 22 minutes, the All Golds were pressing the Crusaders’ line but a loose pass went to ground under the visitors’ posts and Danny Price kicked the ball all the way to the other end to score a sensational 90-metre try.
Six minutes later, a soft penalty in midfield gave the Crusaders field position and Johnson appeared on the right edge to send Luke Warburton through a massive hole to score.
Though the All Golds earned a scrum from the restart, Phil Cowburn passed the ball straight to Price who motored the length of the field again, this time with ball in hand, finishing under the posts.
Just before the interval, Mo Agoro went over following a hot potato passing move that featured eight players to give the home side a slight chance of getting back into the game.
However Graham O’Keeffe misjudged the kick-off and Simon Atherton dragged three defenders over the line with him to score from the gift.
Johnson’s fifth goal came with the last kick of the half to put the Crusaders 20 points ahead and fully in charge of the game.
The All Golds needed to score first in the second period but three minutes in, Ryan Smith stepped through and Johnson was on his shoulder to dive under the posts.
Steve Parry drove over from close range for the home side, Hyde adding the goal to bring the score to 16-36 – the same one that the All Golds recovered from to win a Challenge Cup tie last season – and there may have been jitters in the Crusaders ranks as, on the hour, Chris Barlow acrobatically touched down Hyde’s kick to the corner. The pairing teamed up again and repeated the trick seven minutes later but both scores went unconverted leaving the Crusaders ahead 36-24.
As time ticked away, Johnson missed an angled penalty but Smith added the insurance of a drop goal with ten minutes remaining to increase the lead to 13 points.
The All Golds’ attempts to get back into the game got increasingly desperate and a late try from Harry Kidd was bitter consolation from a disappointing team performance, Hyde’s conversion attempt struck the post and stayed out allowing the Crusaders to start planning their day at the seaside and an encounter with the Barrow Raiders.


ALL GOLDS: Jack Mitchell; Mo Agoro, Phil Cowburn, Brad Kislingbury, Chris Barlow; Josh Ward, Kieran Hyde; Ollie Purslow, Steve Parry, Harry Kidd; Chris Worrall, Joe McClean; Billy Brickhill; Subs (all used); Danny Fallon, Graham O’Keeffe, Harrison Elliott, Malikhi Lloyd-Jones

Tries: Kislingbury (8), Agoro (37), Steve Parry (46), Chris Barlow (60, 67), Harry Kidd (77)

Goals: Hyde 2 from 6

CRUSADERS: Tommy Johnson; Corey Lee, Callum Mulkeen, Danny Price, Luke Warburton; Jack Hansen, Ryan Smith; Johnny Walker, Lee Hudson, Alex Davidson; Simon Atherton, Jack Houghton; James Dandy; Subs (All used); Aaron Moore, Ryan Millington, Matt Davies, Andy Moulsdale.

Tries: Davidson (11), Price (22, 31), Warburton (28), Atherton (38), Johnson (43)

Goals: Johnson 6 from 7

Drop Goal: Smith (70)


Referee: Jon Roberts

Half-time: 10-30

Penalties: 8-10

All Golds Man of the Match: Joe McClean