Newcastle Thunder’s long unbeaten run in Kingstone Press League 1 was brought to a halt in Wrexham on Sunday, as North Wales Crusaders inflicted a 30-14 loss on Mick Mantelli’s side.
It was a disappointing end to what had looked like being a promising afternoon in Wales as Thunder looked to bounce back from their exit in the League 1 Cup at the hands of the same opponents a week earlier.
Launching into a frenzied start, the visitors crossed the Crusaders whitewash four times in the opening 20 minutes of the fixture, though only the last of those counted as the proceeding efforts were chalked off for knock-ons in the build-up and in the act of scoring and for being in front of the kicker.
The score that did count came from the hands of Lewis Young running deep from in his own half with the blistering and evasive type of run that is sharp becoming a hallmark of his game in the club’s number one shirt.
He was the architect of his team’s second score three minutes later as a neat pass out wide to Ali Blair allowed the winger to go over in the corner and give Thunder a 0-8 lead.
A fortuitous bounce of the ball allowed Crusaders to bring themselves back into contention approaching the half hour mark through Alex Thompson, but as the visitors went close to extending their lead on two separate occasions before the half time hooter, it was they who had definitely enjoyed the better of the opening 40 minutes.
As a week earlier, Crusaders assumed the lead early in the second half with a powerful run from Simon Atherton breaking the Thunder defence for a converted score.
After withstanding another prolonged period of attack from their visitors, it was Atherton who engineered the hosts’ extension of their lead with a neat offload to Tom Johnson for a third converted score.
With 13 minutes left on the clock, Thunder halfback Benn Hardcastle’s solo converted try, which saw the club’s record points scorer re-gather his own to score, made it a one score game, though the concession of a goal line drop out allowed the Welsh side to extend the deficit by six as Lee Hudson crossed and Johnson converted.
With only five minutes remaining, Thunder were forced to chase the game and push the envelope in order to get the scores needed and instead ended gifting the Crusaders a gloss to the scoreline that Thunder’s effort didn’t deserve.
Dropping the ball, the mistake was pounced on by second row Jack Houghton for a fifth converted try.
Thunder remain fourth in the table despite the defeat and will be determined to fine tune their effort ahead of the visit of joint top Barrow Raiders to Kingston Park, this Good Friday at 3pm.
Newcastle Thunder squad
Lewis Young, Ali Blair, Tyler Craig, Joe Brown, Peter Fox, Benn Hardcastle, Tom Shaw, Brett Waller, Aaron Teroi, Liam McAvoy, Harry Aldous, Lee Paterson, Jack Aldous, Danny Nicklas, Vincent Rennie, Matty Barron, Corbyn Kilday
Tries: Young, Blair, Hardcastle
Goals: Hardcastle 1/3
North Wales Crusaders squad
Tommy Johnson, Callum Mulkeen, Alex Thompson, Earl Hurst, Dale Bloomfield, Jack Hansen, Ryan Smith, Jonny Walker, Lee Hudson, John Cookson, Jack Houghton, Simon Atherton, Luke Warburton, Aaron Moore, Ryan Millington, Jack Francis,Alex Davidson
Tries: Thompson, Atherton, Johnson, Hudson, Hougton
Goals: Johnson 5/5