Rugby League club win at Bedford in first ever league match

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Bedford Tigers 22

North Herts Crusaders 26

East England Regional Division

North Herts Crusaders made history on Saturday as they travelled to Bedford Tigers for their first game of the season and for many, their first ever game of rugby league.

New to this form of the game and against last year’s East of England runners up and the favourites for the league title this year, the Crusaders posted an early win after a great start which saw them dominate the early exchanges and enjoy the physical nature that comes with playing rugby league.

The Crusaders took the lead after five minutes with Dan Roberts cementing his place in history as North Herts Crusaders’ first ever try scorer, touching down neatly in the corner though the conversion was missed.

The powerful forwards of Adam Booth, Robin French, Jag Johal, Bonne Wilce and Kyle Hughes where rampant, hitting the ball up time and time again, and between them they forced the Tigers to spend the majority of the half on the back foot.

James Tirrell and his dancing feet left the Tigers wishing they were watching Strictly Come Dancing rather than having to try and stop the speedster breaking away from his own half to take the score to 10- 1 with 15 minutes gone. Alex Hughes converted.

Michael George extended Crusaders’ lead moments later after hard work from Wilce, Ben Doughty and Ben Cave put him into a position where he was able to dive over out wide and take the Crusaders’ score to 14-0. Again, the conversion was missed.

It was now looking like the Crusaders would have the game nearly sewn up before half time, especially after Roberts scored his second try of the game. Some neat hands along the line put the youngster away and he took the score to 20-0 before Hughes converted.

With the home side shell-shocked by the quality of the Crusaders and surprised by their expansive style, the Tigers found some heart and got themselves back into the game just before half time.

Andy Champ and Lee Walker replied with scores for Bedford, while Ashton booted one conversion to halve the deficit at the break.

Crusaders coach Colin Baker provided the squad with some wise words at half time but it was the Tigers, after 20 minutes of the second half gone, who crept back into contention as Champ added his second converted try of the afternoon to take the score to 20-16.

It was now game on and with the Crusaders playing their gutsy brand of rugby they caught the ball straight after the restart with Roberts running the ball out of his own dead ball line, handing players off at will before off-loading the pass to Tirrell who decided to suck in and then skin the Tigers winger on the outside to score an impressive try for the Crusaders with only 15 minutes to go. Hughes converted.

It was now back and forth between the two sides and with 10 minutes to go the Tigers’ Matt Wilson burrowed over close to the line to bring the scores even closer, again converted by Ashton to make it 26-22.

This then left the Crusaders to defend heroically and with Simon Hrbek, Liam Corcoran, Dave Sharp, Ollie Adams, Wilce and Scott Outlaw putting in some huge hits, the Crusaders finished their first ever game with a victory and the sense that all the hard work on and off the field was well and truly worth it.

The Crusaders now take their brand of rugby league off St Ives Roosters this Saturday with hope of continuing their winning ways.

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