SOUTH WALES IRONMEN 18 NORTH WALES CRUSADERS 20
By Ian Golden at The Wern for Rugby Leaguer and League Express. Go to www.totalrl.com for all the latest Rugby League news.
South Wales Ironmen were ten minutes away from clinching their first ever win over their North Wales rivals and a victory for the men from Merthyr would have been a just result with all their scoring coming from Welsh internationals.
However indiscipline and missed conversions, as the try count was four each, cost them and the Crusaders kept their heads for a win in a game that didn’t seem like a friendly.
It was an excellent start to the game for the newly rebranded club in their first game at their new home. Welsh international Courtney Davies slid through for the first try after a little over two minutes but Paul Emanuelli failed to add the extras.
A potential future Welsh international winger almost levelled things. Some slick passing following a penalty culminated in Matt Davies heading for the corner but some strong defending sent him into touch.
And it was just a double movement decision that prevented Tommy Johnson from also opening the Crusaders account. Another chance through a penalty also came to nothing.
Ironmen made them pay. Lewis, Reece, back in a South Wales shirt for the first time in nearly four years, charged over for a second, Emanuelli again missing the kick.
Eventually Crusaders found a gap and Callum Mulkeen took advantage of it to put the North Walians on the board. Johnson was slick with the boot to put the score on 8-6, exactly midway through the half.
Another Welsh international returnee put the Ironmen further ahead, Andy Gay, five seasons away from South Wales, performed acrobatics to score in the corner. Emanuelli, with a tougher kick than the last two, again sent it wide of the sticks.
Christiaan Roets was next on the scoresheet for Ironmen, finishing a good passing move, with Davies taking over the kicking duties and landing his side’s first goal of the day.
But Crusaders were back in the game just before the interval. Ironmen’s Chris Davies was sinbinned for a high tackle and the northerners took advantage of the extra man, Danny Price scoring in the corner, Johnson’s kick going wide.
They were in again after little than a minute of the second half when Ryan Smith placed the ball just right of the sticks and Johnson converted.
A second sinbinning, this time Reece seeing yellow for a high tackle, put Ironmen, for one play, down to 11 men, but the Crusaders couldn’t take advantage, the remaining players keeping them out.
The second half got even more tempestuous and it looked like Welsh referee James Jones would reach for the yellow card again on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, the scraps slowed down the quality witnessed in the first half and it took until there was 10 minutes left on the clock before the next try, Ryan Smith giving Crusaders the lead for the first time in the game, Johnson’s kick going wide.
Ironmen almost clinched it at the death with a fine set of six culminating in Gay being stopped centimetres from the line.
- Andy Gay
- Lewis Hughes
- Lewis Reece
- Christiaan Roets
- Paul Edwards
- Paul Emanuelli
- Courtney Davies
- Chris Vitalini
- Connor Farrer
- Jamie I’Anson
- Connor Parker
- Zak Williams
- Ashley Bateman
- Chris Davies
- Izaak Duffy
- Kristian Baller
- Ross Price
- Ben Jones
- Morgan Jeffries
Tries: Davies (3), Reece (13), Gay (24), Roets (30)
Goals: Emanuelli 0/3, Davies 1/1
Sin-bin: Chris Davies (37 – high tackle), Lewis Reece (46 – high tackle)
- Tommy Johnson
- Matt Davies
- Simon Atherton
- Callum Mulkeen
- Danny Price
- Jack Hansen
- Ryan Smith
- Kenny Baker
- Lee Hudson
- Alex Davidson
- James Dandy
- Luke Warburton
- Ryan Millington
- Josh Simm
- Andy Joy
- Blake Turner
- Aaron Moore
- John Cookson
Tries: Mulkeen (19), Price (39), Smith (42, 70)
Goals: Johnson 2/4
Referee: James Jones
Photography – Ian Lovell