The first ever outing for the Ironmen ended in a defeat in the first of the two game Origin series but with Ironmen Head Coach Phil Carleton arguably the happier of the two coaches.
North Wales Crusaders back in Wrexham after a brief stint in Chester fielded a near full strength side and started strong favourites against a youthful Ironmen side with eleven players making their senior debuts.
With a tough game against Championship side Swinton behind them Crusaders were quickly into their stride but wet conditions and a high error count meant chances were at a premium. An unconverted try from Crusaders Luke Warbuton moment’s after the Ironmen had spilled the ball when attempting to ground it was the only score of the half.
Fifteen minutes into the second half Crusaders Man of the Match Simon Atherton crossed the line to extend the home advantage. The response from the visitors was immediate with Lewys Willacott becoming the first ever try scorer for the Ironmen with a scintillating run which started deep inside his own half. Emanuelli kicked the extras to reduce the arrears to 10-6. The Ironmen continued to press in search of a winning score but it wasn’t all one way traffic with Crusaders seeing chances to clinch the game also go begging. With five minutes left a Danny Price score took the game away from the visitors and with seconds remaining a well worked try and his second of the game saw Atherton cross to give the home side a slightly flattering 22-6 victory.
Head Coach Phil Carleton was in an upbeat mood despite the defeat commenting:
” Other than not recording a win I couldn’t be happier. Seven of the starting thirteen and eleven of the squad as a whole were playing their first ever game of senior rugby league. To be within four points of a near full strength Crusaders side going into the last five minutes is something the boys should be proud of. Conceding a couple of late tries is something they’ll learn from but that shouldn’t take the shine off a very pleasing performance.”
” Crusaders will be looking to bring another couple in ahead of next weeks game but we’ll have our contingent of welsh internationals and one or two others back so we stand in good stead.”
” I wouldn’t like to pick a stand out performer from the boys who took to the field today. Every player can be proud of their efforts and they’ve certainly left me with a headache for the next few games. I can’t speak highly enough of 1-21 today.”
“That said we won’t be taking anything for granted and as individuals and a team we’ve lots to work on and a desire to continuously improve. It’s a long campaign but I can guarantee we’ll be seeing a lot more of our youngsters this season.”
The Ironman Man of the Match – Connor Parker
Ironmen Director Neil Williams was also pleased with the performance adding:-
” Today’s performance was the culmination of 15 months worth of hard work. One of the first things we did after taking ownership was to introduce a development side. Paul Emanuelli and his team have done a great job but we should also thank the community sides in Wales. Virtually every club in South Wales from Torfaen in the East to the Raiders in the West had a player who has come through their ranks on the park today and they deserve great credit.”
” There were other youngsters who were unavailable today who would also be in the mix so we are starting to see some real strength in depth coming through across all positions. The talent is out there but we have to work with Wales Rugby League and the community sides to widen the player pool and get more kids playing rugby league be it in a club or school setting.”
” It will be interesting to see how these youngsters go when they come up against Super League and Championship Reserve sides. We’ll probably need to recruit a few additional players for the Reserves to take account of the likely involvement of some players in the senior squad but hopefully that shouldn’t be too problematic. There is now a clear pathway for players through our Reserves into our First Team and in some cases in the years ahead into the Welsh National side.”
“If any players are interested in joining a session with the Ironmen then they are welcome to contact Paul Emanuelli via email firstname.lastname@example.org
A reminder the return match against Crusaders takes place next Sunday at the Wern kick off 2:30pm.
Season ticket holders gain free admission to that match and the following weeks game against St Helens. Season tickets can be purchased via the Matchday/Fanzone section of the website.